Features | Friday Night Drive

Loyola’s D-I tight end duo ready to lead dynamic offense

Jack Fitzgerald and Jack Parker have grown up together over the past three seasons.

Both Loyola tight ends played for the school’s sophomore team as freshmen and the Ramblers called the duo up to the varsity roster as sophomores.

Now the two enter their senior seasons committed to Division-I programs, ready to be part of a dynamic offense that no other team in the state can put out on the field.

“We’re able to replace any guy on the field with us and put in two big bodies who have played two, three years on varsity and know what we’re doing,” Fitzgerald said. “Threats in the red zone, threats in the open field, we can both block. You can’t really tell what we’re going to do based on the formation we’re in.”

Fitzgerald committed to play football at Northwestern in June where he’ll play for his dad Pat while Parker committed to Western Michigan in March. Fitzgerald finished third on the team in receiving yards with 266 and two touchdowns on 26 catches and Parker ended the season fourth with 196 yards on 17 catches.

The two create a formidable duo that can make the Loyola offense tough to stop in the two tight-end set or whenever the two play on the field at the same time. Fitzgerald is 6-foot-5 and weighs 220 pounds while Parker is 6-foot-5, weighing 230 pounds.

Loyola can put both players anywhere on the field offensively, including one or both as either a blocking or pass-catching tight end or put one of them out in the slot or in the backfield.

“It’s nice to know that you can do either,” Parker said. “You can go in the backfield, you can go in the outside, we can play slot, we can block, we can do all of it.”

Both will also provide reliable targets for returning senior quarterback Jake Stearney. The Ramblers will have some new faces both at the running back position and in the wide receivers group.

Stearney’s familiarity with both Parker and Fitzgerald will be important as the offense looks to start the season in high gear against some tough opponents with a defense that only returns three starters from last season.

“It’s very relieving as a quarterback to have a reliable target going into the season,” Stearney said. “Having two big tight ends on a high school football team that are both Division-I guys is unheard of. It’s pretty awesome.”

Both tight ends have spent the summer helping newer players learn their positions. With experience at most offensive positions, they can provide a helpful voice to those trying to catch up and learn the varsity game.

Fitzgerald and Parker are ready for one last run together and they’re ready put on a show the state hasn’t seen.

“Even though we’re competing for the same spot, at the same time, we’ve grown to become friends, we build each other up and we try not to think of it as a competition and more as friends going out there having fun,” Fitzgerald said. “I’ve stopped viewing it as a competition. I view it more as being out there with a friend, kicking butt and taking names together.”