Scouting the Class 8A championship game
Class 8A championship
No. 1 Brother Rice (13-0) vs. No. 19 Loyola (10-3)Game time: 7 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium, Champaign
Road to the championship game: Brother Rice defeated Zion-Benton 49-0, Oak Park-River Forest 27-17, Warren 20-0 and Marist 14-3. Loyola defeated Minooka 38-14, Oswego 22-0, Maine South 17-0 and Lincoln-Way East 24-16.
Outlook: Two tradition-rich program meet for the Class 8A title. Brother Rice, which was 2-7 last year, has returned to form with its undefeated 2018 season. The Crusaders are in the playoffs for the 20th time in program history They won the 6A title in 1981 and finished second in 1985 but this is their first trip to the championship game since then. Coach Brian Badke is in his seventh year at the helm with a record of 51-30. The Crusaders have outscored their opponents 402-72 this season. The offense is directed by senior quarterback John Bean, who has thrown for 1,854 yards and 18 TDs while rushing for 823 yards and 14 scores. The Crusaders' top rusher is senior Jessie Plunkett (1,031 yards, 12 TDs). Senior WR Dylan Summers has caught 61 passes for 931 yards and 14 TDs and his 15 touchdowns are a team high. Senior LB Jack McMahon (63 tackles), senior DL Joe Fitzgerald (59 tackles, 13 for loss) and sophomore LB Myles Jones (55 tackles) lead the defense.
Loyola, which avenged last year's title-game loss to Lincoln-Way East in the semifinals, is in the playoffs for the 26th time in program history. The Ramblers won the Class 6A title in 1993 and the Class 8A crown in 2015. Loyola has not missed the playoffs since 2002 and is making its 13th straight appearance under coach John Holecek, who is in his 12th season and is 145-30. The Ramblers' versatile offense is led by a dual threat at QB in senior Jack Fallon (1,210 yards passing, 12 TDs) and senior Matthew Schiltz (1,002 yards, 8 TDs). Senior WR Rory Boos (797 yards, 10 TDs) is Loyola's top receiver. Out of the backfield, senior Trevor Cabanban (563 yards, 4 TDs), senior Michael Gavric (480 yards, 6 TDs), Fallon (347 yards, 4 TDs) and junior Tyler Flores (222 yards) lead the way. Loyola's defensive leaders are senior DB Jake Gonzalez (124 tackles), senior LB Mike Kadus (105) and senior LB Sam Schierloh (100).
Brother Rice defeated Loyola 35-3 in Week 4.