1992 Football Team (1992)
The 1992 Football Team played in an era that has become part of Loyola football legend. Only one other period in Loyola Academy football history Ð 1962 through 1971 Ð can rival the stretch of sustained brilliance witnessed by the Rambler faithful from 1990 through 1993. During that four-year run, Loyola fielded arguably the most powerful football program in the state of Illinois, posting a record of 46 wins against only 8 losses, capturing four Catholic League North Section titles, twice reaching the IHSA semi-finals, and twice reaching the IHSA finals before finally winning it all in 1993. With two frustrating losses in the state semi-finals sticking in their collective craw, the 1992 Ramblers spent a long, cold winter dreaming of something more. They did more than dream Ð they went to work. Grueling offseason sessions in the weight room in the winter and spring were followed by even more grueling two-a-days in the summer leading up to the fall season. The sense of urgency was palpable. Twice they had been so close to the title game only to let the opportunity slip though their fingers. They didnÕt want to feel that way again. Led by Head Coach John Hoerster (Hall of Fame, 2004) and his remarkable staff Ð Paul Maggoire, Scott Baum, E.J. Doyle, Ed Flynn, Fred Proesel, Tim Feldheim, and John Grogan Ð the Ramblers prepared with single-minded intention. Unwavering in their belief in one another and unshakable in their belief in the cause, they opened camp like a chained lion ready to be unleashed. The 1992 edition was a model John Hoerster team, grounded in the belief that a fundamentally sound, hardhitting, swarming defense was the rock on which championships were founded. Scrappy, aggressive, and unforgiving, the 1992 defense was the teamÕs dependable anchor. Its leader was senior co-captain and All-State linebacker Jim OÕConnor (Hall of Fame, 1993). He was flanked by linebackers Jim Tomaska, Beau Desherow, Tim Fowler, John Dwyer, and Jason Schuster. Manning the trenches were defensive linemen Jeremy Lyons, Ed Marut, Arry Marinakos, Paul Panicali, and Domino Rosi. A talented group of defensive backs roamed the rear, including Keith Hermann, Drew Raucci, Matt Schabes, Tom Goodwin, and Peter Gorman. It was a defense with no discernible weakness. The Rambler offense complemented the defense by playing ball-control, power football. The horses up front commanded the line of scrimmage and then a handful of hard-hitting ball carriers pounded away. The offensive thrust was led by co-captain and 1000-yard rusher Ryan Gallagher, and fellow power backs Adrian Autry, Greg Taylor, and Jarrett Romanski (Hall of Fame, 2004). Quarterback Ziv Lalich was fronted by centers Eric Camastro and Rob Fincutter; guards Mike Perrone and co-captain Paul Loftus; tackles Sterling Humphrey, Mike Fowler, and Ben Look; tight ends Jack Schweiger and Mike Roche; and wide receivers Bill Drehkoff and Scott Jones. John Lafferty handled the kicking duties. A lone, early season loss to St. Rita in a 10-9 heartbreaker was the only blemish in the Rambler record as the Ramblers steamrolled through their regular season schedule and through the early rounds of the state playoff series. The defense had pitched five shutouts, allowing only 45 points through 11 games. Meanwhile, the offense was a veritable juggernaut, clicking on all cylinders as the Ramblers counted seven games over 30 points, including four over 40. Getting by a tough Maine South in the quarter-finals with an eight-point win put Loyola back into the familiar territory of the state semi-finals. There, a hard-fought win over Homewood Flossmoor, 17-8, exorcised the demons of the two previous seasons and brought the Ramblers to the pinnacle of Illinois prep football. The state title showdown with Naperville North proved an exercise in frustration and selfinflicted wounds. LoyolaÕs bid to capture the first state gridiron title in the history of a school rich in football tradition fell apart with penalties early and late, and the Ramblers stumbled to a 21-11 defeat. The 1992 Football Team and its claim to a place with the storied Rambler teams of the past is rooted in both its glittering 12-2 record and in its honored status as the first Loyola team to reach the state final since the state playoff system began in 1975. Fifteen years ago, boys now grown into men dreamed a dream and banded together to make it come true. The 1992 Football team, like the ones before and after, was not a collection of individuals seeking personal glory. Rather, it, like the others, was a team, a band of brothers, that strove together, sacrificed together, won together, and lost together. The players on that team are diminished, certainly, by loss. Jarett Romanski is gone, and Jason Schuster is gone, and now John Hoerster is gone as well. What remains is the common bond of shared memory, and it binds them still as they take their place alongside the storied teams of Loyola past.