'The right amount of pressure': New Loyola Academy football coach has high expectations
It was business as usual as one of Illinois' top prep football teams started the season Monday.
Loyola Academy continued to hone the schemes it worked on during summer training camp.
This season, though, is the first with Robert "Beau" Desherow leading the varsity squad.
A 1993 graduate of the school and a Tulsa-bound, all-Chicago Catholic League linebacker his senior season, Desherow was named head coach March 15.
Earning the nod after a national search that yielded more than 70 candidates, Desherow succeeds 17-year Ramblers coach John Holecek, who announced his resignation last December after winning the program's fourth title and his third Class 8A championship, 13-3 over Lincoln-Way East.
Business as usual also because Desherow is steeped in maroon and gold.
On top of his own playing career, capped in 2016 by his induction into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame, Desherow was a program assistant from 2004-19. Responsibilities included head sophomore coach from 2009-11 and varsity defensive line coach from 2011-19.
Two of his four sons -- all Loyola graduates -- played on state championship teams, Bobby in 2015 and Luke 2018. Beau Desherow's wife, Danielle, graduated from Loyola's former sister school, Marillac.
On the football field and in the coaches' room there is a level of comfort for Desherow, who since 2019 has been Loyola's vice president for admissions and enrollment, his most recent post in 19 years as an administrator at the Jesuit academy in Wilmette.
"I was fortunate enough to retain the entire coaching staff, so they're guys that I've coached with for almost two decades, some of them actually were coaches when I was a student here. We've got a very seasoned, veteran coaching staff," said Desherow, 49, of Des Plaines.
"We kind of have the blueprint and it's just a matter of constantly evaluating that and seeing how we can improve. So, drastic changes? No. Tweaks? Absolutely."
It's an understandably if-it-ain't-broken-don't-fix-it philosophy in a football program that since 1909 has won 741 games and 66% of its contests according to football historians Tom Sikorski and Kev Varney.
That victory total ranks fifth all-time in Illinois, the historians say, and the winning percentage is even higher (84%) during the Holecek era, with Desherow a main cog.
Starting with a younger offensive squad that still features quality linemen Kyle Baltazar and Colton Bendery, defensively the Ramblers offer college prospect Ethan Hogg at outside linebacker and team co-captains safety Kenny Langston, inside linebacker Colin Scheid and defensive tackle Joe Kelly, a Colgate commit.
Calling it "a great feeling" to step onto Hoerster Field Aug. 7 for the official start of the 2023 football season as Loyola's head coach, Desherow expects the Ramblers to be "very competitive" this year.
That is business as usual.
"No matter who the coach is here at Loyola we have high expectations. We want to strive for excellence in all the things that we do, that includes athletics, academics, service," Desherow said.
"We strive for the Magis -- it's a Jesuit term, always striving for more. That's what we do, so it's the right amount of pressure, for sure."