School Spotlight: Loyola Academy (Wilmette, Illinois)

Loyola Academy, situated in Wilmette, Illinois, stands as an 8A, Division 1 powerhouse in high school football. The team is now under the guidance of newly appointed Head Coach Beau Desherow, who inherits a remarkable legacy. Former head coach John Holecek led the team to a stellar 13-1 record and a State Championship in 2022, before departing after a tenure that included three state championships and three state runner-up finishes. However, Coach Beau, a former alumnus and football player himself, has eagerly awaited the chance to leave his mark on the program. With 18 years of coaching experience at Loyola, Coach Beau made an immediate impact, leading the team to a flawless 14-0 record in his inaugural season as head coach. Not only did they maintain an undefeated streak, but they also clinched another State championship title, continuing the proud tradition of success for their alma mater.

The Ramblers are poised to pursue a three-peat in the upcoming season, adding another chapter to their long history of success. Leading the charge is quarterback Ryan Fitzgerald, who threw for 2,056 yards and 14 touchdowns last season. Assisting him on offense is versatile player Drew Macpherson, who contributed 855 rushing yards, 500 receiving yards, and 11 total touchdowns. Tight end Brendan Loftus, standing at 6’7″, added 185 receiving yards and two touchdowns to the mix. Anchoring the run game and providing pass protection for quarterback Joey Herbert is crucial. Coach Beau highlighted the team’s defensive line as a strength, featuring big-bodied players like Connor Sullivan, Thomas Ghislandi, and Kai Calcutt, who have collectively amassed 6 sacks and 4 quarterback hurries with the limited play time last season. In the second level of the defense, linebacker Charlie Daly and safety Donovan Robinson are key players who not only disrupt the run game but also make the opposing team’s quarterback’s job difficult in the passing game with their lurking presence.

What are the core values and principles that guide your football program?

” We prioritize the development of the whole person, instilling core Jesuit values into our football program. By the time our student-athletes graduate, they embody these values, becoming intellectually competent, physically fit, loving, open to growth, and committed to doing justice.”

How do you focus on developing players, both on and off the field?

“We boast the best full-time strength coach in the state, ensuring our athletes are consistently engaged in offseason workouts. Emphasizing team values, our leadership council, composed of seniors, discusses themes of football and faith, fostering camaraderie and leadership. Prior to each game, we gather as a team for Mass, and a member of the council delivers an inspiring speech to motivate the team.”

A decent amount of the team is graduating. How do you think the team is going to look next year, and how do you expect returning players to plug in the holes?

“In past years, we’ve typically had a senior-dominated team. However, this year, we have an unprecedented number of returning starters. With a surplus of talented players, I’m confident that we have the depth to fill any gaps that may arise.”

After winning you second state championship guys attacking the offseason and preparing for a potentially three peat?

“We strive for continuous improvement every day, focusing on enhancing our speed and agility. Supported by our experienced coaching staff, we meticulously analyze both player performance and coaching strategies. Our approach emphasizes taking each game one step at a time.”

How long have you been coaching and why did you get into coaching.

“Coach Beau with 18 years of experience, was a D1 football player back in 2004. In 2003, his head coach passed away at the age of 53, which deeply impacted him. Attending the funeral and seeing old teammates and coaches there inspired him to give back to his community and school. He secured a job in admissions and began coaching in the fall of 2004. While coaching, he also pursued a master’s degree, finding the experience incredibly fulfilling.”

Would you consider yourself a more offensive, defensive, or balanced coach?

“Personally, I lean towards a defensive mindset, having previously played on the defensive side of the ball.”

Can you describe the expectations and commitments required of student-athletes who join the football team?

” Our expectation is that each player prioritizes academics first.Then behaves as a good teammate, showing care and support for others. Being a good time meaning being on time and working hard.”

Who are some player to look out for when the season starts to help lead this team ?

Donovan Robinson – DB

Ryan Fitzgerald- QB

Drew MacPherson– RB / WR

Brendan Loftus – TE

Joey Hebert – Center

Connor Sullivan – Dline

Kai Calcutt -Dline

Thomas Ghislandi – DE

Charlie Daly – LB