Holecek resigns as football coach at Loyola Academy

  • The Ramblers' 13-3 Class 8A championship victory over Lincoln-Way East Nov. 26 will be coach John Holecek's final game for Loyola; he announced on Monday he's leaving the school.

      The Ramblers' 13-3 Class 8A championship victory over Lincoln-Way East Nov. 26 will be coach John Holecek's final game for Loyola; he announced on Monday he's leaving the school. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

Updated 12/6/2022 1:46 PM

John Holecek is going out on top.

The 17-year Loyola Academy football coach and Glenview resident on Monday announced his resignation effective June 2023.


The announcement on Tuesday came less than two weeks since Loyola won its third state football title under Holecek and fourth overall, 13-3 over Lincoln-Way East in the Class 8A championship game in Champaign Nov. 26.

Holecek's Ramblers made seven title game appearances all in the largest class of Illinois High School Association football, winning the championship in 2015 and 2018. In his 16 full seasons Loyola never failed to reach the playoffs, and in the 2020 spring season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic the Ramblers went 6-0.

"There's no question that John elevated our football program, helping it to become a nationally recognized program," Loyola athletic director Genevieve Atwood said in Tuesday's statement from the Wilmette school.

Indeed, Loyola opened its 13-1 campaign this season with a 44-20 win over St. Xavier of Cincinnati at Hoerster Field in a game broadcast nationally by ESPN. The Ramblers' sole loss this season was a 42-37 Week 9 barnburner against CCL/ESCC Blue rival Mt. Carmel, which handily won the Class 7A title.

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"The Holecek era will stand out among the storied history of Loyola's football program for its grit, its winning tradition, and its commitment to excellence," Atwood stated.

Holecek finishes at Loyola with a record of 186-36 for a winning percentage of 84%. Starting with the 2009 season his Ramblers reached at least the state semifinals in 11 of 13 full seasons.

Spanning the top-flight Chicago Catholic League Blue and the CCL/ESCC Blue, Holecek's Ramblers won 9 conference titles.

At press time Holecek was not available for comment.

A graduate of Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, Holecek became an all-Big Ten linebacker at the University of Illinois, where his 436 tackles between 1991-94 remain fifth in Illini history.


A fifth-round pick by the Buffalo Bills in the 1995 NFL Draft, in an eight-year NFL career that included seasons with the San Diego Chargers and Atlanta Falcons, Holecek made 380 tackles, 13 for loss, 3.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions, according to profootballreference.com. Injuries forced his retirement in 2002.

Holecek, who lives in Glenview with his wife, Patricia, and sons Jake, Nick and Luke -- the two older boys both Loyola graduates with Luke a senior there -- has not shared his future plans, the academy said in Tuesday's release.

Loyola is forming a search committee for its next head football coach, with more information to come in January, the academy said.

"It is with deep appreciation that I thank coach John Holecek for nearly 20 years of service as head coach at Loyola Academy and I wish him the best of luck as he embarks on this next chapter," Atwood said.

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