There will be no playoffs in this pandemic-shortened season, but it might feel otherwise to Loyola.
The No. 1 Ramblers are navigating their way through the state’s toughest schedule — six straight ranked opponents — with matchups materializing only days in advance against opponents they’ve rarely seen, if ever.
Loyola passed another test in an unusual Friday afternoon home game, shutting out No. 25 Phillips 30-0 behind another dominating performance from running back Vaughn Pemberton and the defense.
Playing only every other series, Pemberton nonetheless piled up more than 100 yards of total offense: 10 carries for 92 yards and a touchdown, and one catch for 11 yards.
Aidan Brownlee scored on an end-around, and quarterbacks JT Thomas and Jake Stearney each threw a touchdown pass for Loyola (5-0).
Phillips and Hillcrest were last-minute schedule additions when the Ramblers’ original week four and five opponents were unavailable. Had they not stepped in, Loyola would have had three weeks off before playing Marist in the regular-season and CCL/ESCC Blue finale.
“When we got Phillips scheduled, we were all really happy,” Pemberton said. “I got the Hudl message from coach (John) Holecek when I was in my bed. I was like, ‘Oh! I’m playing a game.’”