Football: Loyola’s Luke Ford eyes happier ending
Losing last year in Champaign to Bolingbrook still eats at Luke Ford.
The soon-to-be senior at Loyola is sweating this summer to make sure this season doesn’t end the same way.
“That was an experience I certainly will never forget,” said Ford, who was part of the Ramblers’ 13-1 club that played in the state final for the first time since 1993. “It’s a game that motivates me.”
One of four regulars to return on defense for the Ramblers, Ford will be counted on even more in his second season as a starting safety.
“Obviously, not many people look up to you in your first year on varsity,” the Glenview resident said. “Now, I have a responsibility to the people looking up to me.”
Loyola coach John Holecek sees the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Ford as a dynamic playmaker on defense.
“Phenomenal athlete,” the coach said. “I remember the game against Brother Rice and their running back, and Luke is checking every gap and still makes the play outside. He has tremendous closing speed and long arms to make tackles.
“He doesn’t miss tackles and has great range, especially from the deep middle.”
Holecek believes Ford can play and succeed on the next level. Right now, Ford’s only offer is from Penn, where he ran a 4.61 40-yard dash at the college’s camp this summer.
Ford also has attended camps at Illinois, Northwestern, Holy Cross and Harvard.
“I am looking to play in an atmosphere like Penn’s, somewhere in the Ivy League or Patriot League,” he said. “The Big Ten is not something I’ve thought a lot about. Personally, I don’t think it’s in my skill range, but I’d be at happy at those schools, too, because they are great academic schools.”
One thing holding Ford back are his numbers from the summer combines. After running the 4.61 at Penn, he ran in the 4.8s at Northwestern, which hurts his options at safety.
“But Luke is a great football player,” Holecek said. “He may not be that superior athlete that a Big Ten team wants, but he’s such a smart player.
“He plays all over the place for us.”
Defensive lineman Darby Goodwin, defensive lineman Jack Rushin and linebacker Cody Sullivan also are veteran players back to the team.
July will be Loyola’s busy month of the summer.
“I am definitely happy with how we are looking as a team,” Ford said. “I see improvements from the first practice up until now. I know that sounds like a broken record, but it’s really apparent with us. But we can’t get complacent, and we have a long way to go.
“For now, though, I am satisfied with the offseason.”