WILMETTE — Loyola Academy showcased its depth against a depleted Providence Catholic team on Saturday afternoon.
The Ramblers used their full offensive and defensive arsenal and senior reserves earned some playing time on Senior Day in a 40-0 win.
“They’re down,” Loyola coach John Holecek said. “We can’t make up our schedule. We play who we play. I think we were sportsmanlike with what we did, not putting it on, not leaving our starters in.”
Providence coach Mark Coglianese said his defense lost six starters and more backups because of a COVID spread within the team that the team learned about on Friday. Coglianese said his team never thought about not playing Saturday despite the lack of numbers.
“The guys stepped up and did the best that they could,” Coglianese said. “I’m proud of the effort. Obviously not happy with the outcome but we’ll move on next week.”
Loyola (7-0) started quickly, forcing a Providence three-and-out on its opening drive before using two plays to score, ending on a 35-yard run from Will Nimesheim.
After the Ramblers forced another Celtic three-and-out, the offense used nine plays to drive 51 yards, scoring on a James Kreutz 2-yard run. Loyola scored on its next drive when Jake Stearney completed a 40-yard pass to Nimesheim, leading 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Saturday was just the second game for Nimesheim, a sophomore Loyola wanted to see fill a running back hole after injuries to starter Marco Maldonado and backup Mike Regan.
“He’s got a burst, he’s got good vision,” Holecek said of the sophomore running back. “He shows good promise. You see in the next two years when he bulks up, he’ll be able to run through things. He has a bright future.”
Stearney played a little bit over a quarter but made an impression, completing 6 of his 7 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. Backup quarterback Luke Collins passed and ran for a touchdown each while Nimesheim finished with 50 rushing yards and the Loyola offense finished with 364 total yards of offense.
“It’s Senior Day, we actually got to test out all the other running backs, see what they could do, get some really good, valuable experience for the guys who haven’t been able to play,” Holecek said. “In the end, we’re developing depth.”
The Celtics offense played without starting quarterback Lucas Proudfoot, who’s out for the season, and two-way player Brayden Garrigan. They finished with 55 yards of total offense and didn’t earn a first down until there was a little bit over five minutes left in the third quarter. Loyola senior Will Maheras intercepted a pass in the first quarter and the defense forced a safety in the third quarter.
Providence will try to heal up before facing St. Rita on Friday.
“We know what Loyola is and they’re every bit of it,” Coglianese said. “They’re a great team. We’re not at our greatest strength.”
Loyola will prepare to play at St. Patrick on Friday before its much-anticipated season-finale against Mount Carmel.
While days like Saturday are a good boost to the Ramblers’ spirits, the coaches and players know they need to approach each week with the same intensity as they did the previous week, no matter how much depth they have.
“We always have the mentality of 1-0,” Stearney said. “We know St. Patrick is a little bit better than these guys, so we’re focused on 1-0.”