Ramblers await rematch with Panthers
Loyola kicker Mike Kurzydlowski (19) reacts after putting the Ramblers up 3-0 on Saturday in Wilmette. Visit seasonpass.suntimes.com/pioneer to view a photo gallery from the game. | Vincent D. Johnson~for Sun-Times Media
Who: Glenbard North (11-1) at Loyola (11-1)
What: Class 8A semifinal game
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Where: 1100 Laramie, Wilmette
Updated: December 16, 2012 6:45AM
WILMETTE — There were some sighs around Loyola’s stadium Saturday when it was announced Maine South lost its Class 8A quarterfinal game to Glenbard North.
The Ramblers would have liked nothing more than to have paid back the Hawks in the state semifinals after Maine South ended Loyola’s seasons in 2009 and 2010.
But all that really matters to the Ramblers — the No. 3-ranked team by the Sun-Times — is that they will return to the semifinals for the fourth consecutive season following their 19-7 win over Palatine.
“Well, we got here again,” said senior nose tackle Darby Goodwin.
For the second season in a row, Loyola (11-1) plays No. 6 Glenbard North (11-1), a 29-23 winner over the Hawks in Park Ridge. The Ramblers beat the Panthers 28-13 in last year’s semifinals.
“It should be another battle,” Goodwin said. “We know we will have to stop the run.”
Cody Sullivan, who had a career-high three interceptions Saturday, is happy to be back in this position. But the senior linebacker won’t be satisfied until gets back to Memorial Stadium in Champaign, where the Ramblers lost to Bolingbrook in the Class 8A title game a year ago.
“This feels good, but we still have things to work for,” he said. “Anything less than a state championship is not what we want this year.”
Loyola never trailed Saturday, but it wasn’t easy. Palatine’s Cam Kuksa returned a punt 47 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter to cut Loyola’s lead to 10-7.
The Ramblers responded by piecing together their best series of the game, a nine-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Peter Pujals’ 21-yard scoring strike to Luke Ford.
Loyola at times struggled offensively with five three-and-out possessions, and its senior quarterback knew whom to credit for this victory.
“The defense won that game for us,” said Pujals, who finished 13-for-23 for 158 yards and didn’t turn over the ball. “They are well-coached, fast and physical. We, as an offense, have to do better. We need to be able to give our defense more of a rest.”