UPDATE 2: Loyola Completes Undefeated Season With State Football Title [VIDEO]

November 30, 2015
DEKALB, ILL.--- Mission accomplished by Loyola. The Ramblers (14-0) finally won its second state football championship by beating Marist (9-5) 41-0 last Saturday night at NIU in DeKalb. Loyola had lost twice in the state championship game in 2011 and 2013. Last season, the Ramblers were beaten in the second round by eventual state champion Stevenson. Loyola did shake off that loss to win the Prep Bowl in 2014 over Curie. "It's a relief," Loyola head coach John Holecek said after the win. "It's not the worst thing in the world to be the Marv Levy of Illinois high school football. Today, I think we caught fire and these guys played really well." The top-seeded Ramblers won two close games over Homewood-Flossmore (10-2) and Palatine (10-3) to reach the championship game. Loyola wasn't going to be denied on Saturday against Marist. The dynamic duo of quarterback Emmett Clifford and running back Dara Laja combined for four touchdowns in the first half to build a 27-0 lead. "We knew our goal was the state championship," Laja said. "The goal was to win it." The Ramblers began the game with a 44-yard scoring drive. Clifford scored on a four-yard run. Laja, who rushed for 152 yards, scored twice in the second quarter while Clifford finished the first half with a nine yard touchdown pass to Jonah Isaac. The Ramblers amassed 403 yards on this night and scored 558 points this season. "They have a good offense," Marist head coach Pat Dunne stated. "They have a lot of talent." "The pressure was on the offense to score points," Laja said on the field after the victory. Loyola certainly had a prolific offense, but the defense recorded its sixth shutout and allowed only 123 points. "They were just fast and big," Marist quarterback Brendan Skalitzky said in the postgame press conference at NIU. "They were a great defense." Skalitzky led Marist into the state championship with 38 touchdown tosses and directed an offense that had scored 493 points. "I've never won a championship in my life," Holecek said. "This is a special feeling for me." Holecek played football at Marian Catholic and Illinois before having a career in the NFL with three teams. There was certainly more drama in the Class 7A championship game. Glenbard West (14-0) beat Libertyville (13-1) 34-28 in a matchup between two of state's best offensive players Sam Brodner (Glenbard West) and Riley Lees (Libertyville). Brodner, who will attend Vanderbilt and Lees who will play at Northwestern didn't disappoint fans who were expecting an exciting game. Brodner scored four touchdowns for the Hilltoppers and rushed for a championship game record 264 yards. Lees threw for four touchdowns but had two costly interceptions in the loss for Libertyville. Five of the championship games used a running clock which occurs when team is trailing by 40 points or more.    

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