IN THE SPOTLIGHT
He was up for a challenge.
You know. Be the next Jimi Hendrix.
Or, the next Jimmy Page.
Okay, maybe that’s a stretch.
But Quinn Boyle, the prized senior quarterback for the Loyola Academy football team, did want to take his guitar playing up a notch or two.
So when the time came, the passer couldn’t pass up on an elective course that the LA Music Department offered: Beginner Guitar (AO18).
“I’ve always wanted to play an instrument,” said Boyle, one of five children. “Learning a lot of rock music.”
The legacies of Hendrix, Page and even Eric Clapton are safe.
For now, anyway.
Boyle, who actually favors rap music over rock, doesn’t plan to surpass their greatness any time soon. But the chance to do something great for the Ramblers certainly is on his mind — and at his fingertips.
He’s no beginner on the football field.
Following in the footsteps of a couple of his football idols — former LA QBs and fellow Glenview residents Peter Pujals and Emmett Clifford (both are playing college football at Holy Cross) — the 6-foot-1, 175-pound Boyle is having one of those “never-ceases-to-amaze” seasons for the 10-1 Ramblers.
The Player of the Year in the Chicago Catholic League Blue Division certainly struck all the right chords — two rushing touchdowns and two passing TDs — in LA’s 28-7 victory over visiting Hinsdale Central in the second round of the Class 8A state playoffs on Nov. 4.
Not bad for a kid who went into the game as The Key Question Mark.
Boyle, who injured his right (throwing) shoulder in the playoff opener against New Trier on Oct. 28, admitted that he had a tough week of preparation. He was ailing. Flailing.
And LA offensive coordinator Tyler Vradenburg acknowledged that Boyle didn’t look like himself while throwing the ball in Saturday’s pregame walk-throughs.
“He was pushing the ball [instead of throwing it]. I didn’t like his release,” said Vradenburg. “But when the game started, adrenaline took over.
“Quinn is as tough as they come,” the coach added. “I love his moxie.”
Sitting this one out?
“I was going to do everything possible to be on the field today,” said Boyle, in a postgame chat following the 21-point victory.
“I wasn’t worried,” said LA junior wideout Noah Jones. “I knew Quinn would tough it out.
“He’s one of the toughest guys I know,” Jones added. “He’ll take some hits. But then he gets right back up.”
LA’s offensive play of the game? A toss-up.
Jones’ sensational 31-yard diving reception of a high-arcing pass in the right corner of the end zone in the second quarter definitely was highlight-reel material.
“Phenomenal throw. Phenomenal catch,” said Vradenburg.
It was a thing of beauty — with not even a hint of arm fatigue from Boyle.
“A perfect ball by Quinn and great offensive line play made it all possible,” said Jones, referring to blockers Ryan Hagedorn, Peter Gianaris, Christopher Kelly, Joshua Green and Charlie Gross.
Jones, by the way, is a down-and-out route runner who never seems to be down and out. He’s got a winsome smile that only rivals his amazing catch radius.
Despite missing a big chunk of the regular season with a lingering hamstring injury — he has only nine catches for 158 yards — the 6-2, 195-pound Jones has received an invitation to the U.S. Army All-American National Combine.
And, despite being out of commission for so long, Jones kept his connection with Boyle.
“Quinn not only is a great leader, but he’s also a great friend of mine,” said the 6-2, 195-pound Jones, who runs the 40 in 4.56. “It’s always good for a receiver to be friends with the quarterback.”
Keeping up with Jones? Junior wideout Rory Boos — nicknamed “Hollywood” by a family friend (Jim Burke) many years ago — can do that pretty well.
Boyle, who finished the game 9-for-14 for 133 yards with zero interceptions, capped a seven-play, 74-yard drive in the second quarter with an eight-yard toss to the 6-0, 155-pound Boos.
Again, a thing of beauty.
Boos went up high and essentially won a jump ball against Hinsdale Central cornerback Joshua Hagen, who had inside position.
“I just gave him an opportunity to go up and get it,” said Boyle.
It’s been that kind of season for Boos. The all-league pick now has 29 catches for a team-high 612 yards.
The team’s other catch leader is senior James Joyce. He caught three passes for 51 yards against the Red Devils. He now has 42 receptions for 500 yards on the season.
Boyle’s numbers after 11 games are pretty good. In the air, he has completed 123 of 189 yards for 1,618 yards. And his touchdown/interception ratio (18-to-2) is pretty darn hard to beat.
On the ground, Boyle is a headache ready to befall an opposing linebacker or defensive back. He’s run the ball 128 times for a team-best 677 yards with six TDs.
Like a base-stealer in baseball, Boyle can ignite an offense with his quick bursts.
He runs the 40 in 4.8. Not bad considering that Aaron Rodgers of the Packers runs it in 4.71 and Drew Brees of the Saints runs it in 4.83.
“I wish it were better,” said Boyle.
On the opening drive against Hinsdale Central, Boyle wasn’t in a hurry to test contact. He waited until the seventh play to fake a handoff to Hamid Bullie (19 rushes, 145 yards) and keep the ball on a zone read. It went for 32 yards.
It made Vradenburg breathe easier.
“We wanted to see how he took that first hit,” said Vradenburg. “He was good.”
Boyle eventually ended the 15-play, 87-yard drive with a stand-up, two-yard TD run. He gentlemanly handed the ball to the official just before being hoisted up to the sky by an excited LA lineman: Gross.
Boyle added his second TD — a four-yard run — on LA’s second possession of the second half.
His arm is accurate. His legs are quick.
But what Vradenburg likes most about Boyle is his football intellect.
“I told him before the game [against Hinsdale Central] that I didn’t need him to run as much,” said Vradenburg. “But that I did need his brain on the field.”
“He makes checkdowns on the field that I don’t even think of,” added Vradenburg. “He gets it. He sees things. He’s such a smart player. He always seems to know where the [defensive] pressure is coming from. I trust him explicitly.”
Captain Cerebral has a head for the game. Between the hash marks, Boyle majors in analytics, physics and calculus. He’s a brainiac with the ball. A mastermind on the move.
And to make matters even better, Boyle doesn’t mind being a leader — and leading the charge.
“Quinn is a special kid,” said Vradenburg. “He’s a really good football player, but he’s an even better person.
“His teammates love playing for him,” the coach added. “How can they not?”
Notable: Loyola Academy, which gave up a third-quarter touchdown to Hinsdale Central, was led defensively by Jake Gonzalez (10 tackles, 1 QB sack), Hugh Kelly (7 tackles, 1 tackle for loss), John Costello (8 tackles), Anthony Rodriguez (4 tackles, 1 sack), Marty Geary (1 sack, 1 TFL), Patrick Daniels (4 tackles, 1 sack), John McMahon (2 sacks), Christopher Scott (4 tackles), Nick Murphy (3 tackles) and Armoni Dixon (3 tackles). … Tight end Charlie Gilroy was one of the team’s unsung heroes. He caught a career high four passes for 44 yards. … With the victory, Ramblers coach John Holecek picked up career win No. 133 at Loyola Academy. That ties him with legendary coach John Hoerster. … The Ramblers will face undefeated Marist (11-0) in the state quarterfinal round on Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. Marist topped Curie 37-14 in second-round action on Nov. 4.