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Rambler Football Makes Its ESPN Debut

On Sunday, August 28, Loyola Academy’s varsity football team opened its 2022 season against the St. Xavier Bombers from Cincinnati, Ohio, as the highly anticipated finale to the 2022 Geico ESPN High School Football Kickoff. The game—in which the Ramblers took a swift and dominant lead and clinched a 44–20 victory—was broadcast to a national audience on ESPN.
The morning began with a beautiful Mass where alumni and friends from both Jesuit school communities gathered. Presiding over Mass were Loyola Academy President Rev. Gregory J. Ostdiek, SJ, and St. Xavier Alumni Chaplain Fr. Terry Baum, SJ, who served as headmaster at Loyola Academy for many years.  

The atmosphere inside Sachs Stadium was electric as a spirited student section and a sold out crowd turned out to cheer on the Ramblers. The Loyola Academy Marching Band, Ramblerettes, Cheer Squad, and Maroon Monsoon did a wonderful job of keeping fans energized and entertained despite hot and humid conditions (the temperature in Wilmette topped out near 90 degrees) and severe thunderstorms on the horizon.         

The interstate match-up brought together two powerhouse programs from the Midwest to battle it out on the national stage at Loyola’s Hoerster Field, as announced by ESPN in July. The showdown between Loyola and St. Xavier was one of seven that ESPN broadcasted as part of the 2022 Geico ESPN High School Football Kickoff. The annual event, showcasing football programs from across the country, is a great opportunity for young athletes to compete before a national audience. 

By halftime, the Ramblers had pulled ahead 34-7.  

Among many standouts include Loyola quarterback Jake Stearney ’23, who was named the Player of the Game with 252 passing yards and 4 total touchdowns; Drew McPherson ’25, who had a 53-yard scoring run; Michael Baker ’24, with three extra point kicks; running back Will Nimesheim ’24, with a 70-yard TD run; and Athan Chiampas ’23, with a 23-yard field goal. 

Between the third and fourth quarters, the announcer asked fans to turn their attention to the south end zone where special guest, Mille Rueve, was seated. There is a great history of Jesuit education in Mille's family at both Loyola Academy and St. Xavier.  Mille is grandmother to eight Loyola Academy alumni, two current Loyola students, six St. Xavier alumni, and one current St. X student! Her husband, Tom Rueve, was also a St. Xavier alumnus. Mille and her family were recognized for their commitment to Jesuit education.  

Loyola’s freshman and junior varsity teams also faced St. Xavier in games played on Saturday, August 27, though these games were not broadcasted. Freshmen lost 33–14. Sophomores won 37–18.

“We were thrilled to welcome St. Xavier’s football program to Wilmette. Our two communities enjoyed a weekend of great football,” says Loyola Academy Vice President for Athletics and Fitness Genevieve Atwood. “Our shared Jesuit tradition united us in a spirit of fellowship that played out in good sportsmanship, friendship, and fun.” 

Tickets to the game were sold online in advance via GoFan. Rambler fans able to secure tickets had the opportunity to gather for Mass, and alumni enjoyed a reception before the game. For those unable to view the game in person, Loyola planned several watch parties for Rambler fans throughout the city and suburbs, including City’s Edge (Chicago), Commonwealth Tavern (Chicago), Cortland’s Garage Tavern & Grill (Arlington Heights), Firehouse Grill (Evanston), Hackney’s on Lake (Glenview), and Macushla Brewing Co. (Glenview).

The varsity Ramblers are coming off a strong 2021 season—their 12–1 record earned them the number 1 rank in the IHSA Class 8A and the number 3 rank in the state. During the shortened 2020 season, Loyola went undefeated (6–0). The Ramblers have had their sights set on reclaiming the state championship since 2018—the last time they captured the title. Loyola’s football program has clinched the IHSA Class 8A football state championship three times in school history: 1993, 2015 and 2018. The two most recent titles were achieved under the leadership of Head Football Coach John Holecek.   

Varsity Football Schedule 2022 Season

8/28 vs. St. Xavier, home, 12:00 p.m.
9/3 vs. United Township High School, home, 1:30 p.m.
9/9 vs. St. Rita, away, 7:30 p.m.
9/17 vs. Brother Rice, home, 1:30 p.m.
9/24 vs. Fenwick, home, 1:30 p.m. *Homecoming*
9/30 vs. Marist, away, 8:30 p.m.
10/7 vs. Providence Catholic, away, 7:30 p.m.
10/15 vs. St. Patrick, home, 1:30 p.m.
10/22 vs. Mount Carmel, home, 1:30 p.m. 
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