In the midst of a rebuild under new coach Bob McMillen, the St. Francis Spartans knew they'd have their hands full on Friday night with Loyola Academy, the defending Class 8A runner-up, visiting Kuhn Memorial Stadium.
Loyola Academy took control early and cruised to a 42-7 victory. However, with a program to build, McMillen and the Spartans found something to take away from the lopsided loss.
"Loyola is a great team and they're a class act from top to bottom," McMillen said. "We just asked our kids to compete. We challenged them at halftime after it got out of hand in the first half."
The Ramblers started the scoring on the game's sixth play when quarterback Quinn Boyle hooked up with wide receiver Rory Boos for a 50-yard touchdown pass. After a St. Francis three-and-out, the Ramblers (3-1) went back to work, marching 47 yards on 8 plays and capping the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run by Hamid Bullie.
The Ramblers continued to smother the St. Francis offense throughout the remainder of the half. They didn't allow a single first down and held the Spartans to minus-1 yard of total offense over the first two periods.
On their final possession of the first half, the Loyola Academy second-team offense ensured a running clock in the second half when John Fallon found Andrew Forsyth for a 14-yard touchdown with 9.1 seconds remaining to make it 42-0.
"It's tough because all (our kids) want to move up, they all want the reps," Loyola Academy coach John Holecek said. "St. Francis' scheme is solid and the players are going to come.
"Obviously, (Coach McMillen) has a lot of experience and he knows what he's doing. You can see that on tape, he just has to get more bodies."
In the second half St. Francis (1-3) showed some fight just like McMillen asked.
The Spartans managed to get on the scoreboard after a 37-yard pass from quarterback Mike Baffa to Joseph Lang set up first-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Baffa converted the sneak to make it 42-7.
The Spartans racked up 75 yards of total offense in the second half and outscored Loyola 7-0 over the final two periods, giving them a small glimmer of hope going into next week against De La Salle.
"We have 23 kids on our varsity team right now (Loyola lists 93 on its roster) and we bring up eight sophomores," McMillen said. "So to go out there and be able to compete against their second and third-string kids, I was proud of our kids."