Week 9 preview: Loyola vs. St. Rita

For the Catholic League Blue, this is the game of the year — two Illinois heavyweights battling on the final day of the regular season. Both teams have serious state title hopes, but a win here would be a serious lift heading into the postseason. One of the biggest questions heading into the game is the health of Loyola's star quarterback, but the Ramblers are talented enough to compete with or without their top player.

The Game:

No. 5 St. Rita (7-1) at No. 4 Loyola (8-0)

Saturday, 1 p.m.

The Players:

St. Rita —The Mustangs have playmakers all over the defense, with senior linebackers Dan Fitzgerald and Will McNamara leading the way. If Loyola QB Malcolm Weaver plays, it will be up to Fitzgerald and McNamara to keep him from breaking off huge plays.

Loyola —It's all about Weaver. After leaving last week's game with an injury, his status hasn't been announced, and no one expects it to be — we'll find out when the starting offense runs out on to the field on Saturday afternoon. If he doesn't play, you would naturally expect Loyola to turn to its rushing attack, with someone like senior RB Will Palivos getting more carries.

The Stakes:

The winner is the Catholic League Blue champion. It's as simple as that. Loyola has won the last four meetings between these teams, but Weaver's injury status leaves a question mark hanging over the Ramblers.

The Prediction:

I think Weaver guts it out and gives Loyola enough of a spark to move the ball consistently, though I expect the game to be low-scoring.


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