IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Loyola Academy head football coach John Holecek likes to say that his outside linebacker, Armoni Dixon, “passes the eye test”.
Perhaps, to loosely borrow a line from C.S. Lewis, from the Chronicles of Narnia, “truer words have never been spoken.”
Holecek doesn’t hold back his praise for Dixon.
The LA coach knows he’s got someone special here.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior has “The Look “— and the speed and athleticism to go with it.
It’s like he’s been created in a football laboratory.
This Armoni is Armani suit good.
“He’s long with great athletic ability,” says Holecek. “You look at him, and you immediately see him as a next-level player. He passes the eye test.”
He also passes the style test. Dreadlocks become him.
His long, braided hair is part of his mystique.
Dixon’s main awe-inspiring quality — on a football field — is his ruthless pursuit of opposing quarterbacks. He pulled down Brother Rice QB Evan Sullivan for a 10-yard loss in the opening quarter of LA’s 28-7 home win on Oct. 21.
“I like getting after the quarterback,” says Dixon, moments after the Ramblers (8-1, 4-0) put the finishing touches on a Chicago Catholic League Blue Division championship.
With Dixon as one of the catalysts, the Ramblers have outscored their opponents 105-0 in the first quarter.
“I really like the way our defense is progressing,” Dixon says. “I’ve formed quite a bond with my teammates.”
In the nine-game regular season, No. 33 has recorded four sacks and five other tackles for loss to go along with six quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, two pass breakups and one fumble recovery.
Those totals helped Dixon earned all-conference accolades.
But you get the feeling that Dixon is just getting starter. He could break out even more in the upcoming Class 8A state playoffs, which begin on Oct. 28 when LA hosts New Trier (2 p.m.).
Senior inside linebacker Anthony Rodriguez loves teaming up with Dixon.
“He’s fast. He’s quick. He’s got height and a great frame,” says Rodriguez, who leads the Ramblers in tackles (67) and pass breakups (5). “He’s got everything.”
Dixon also possesses keen attentiveness.
“I like that when he messes up, he fixes it right away,” Rodriguez says. “He learns from his mistakes. Coaches tell him to do something, and he does it.
His coachability no doubt will serve well now — and in the future.
Dixon, who does his conditioning with EFT Sports Performance in Highland Park, has become a hot prospect on the recruiting trail. Earlier this week, he tweeted out that he’s received an offer from Western Michigan.
Dixon says that he’s also received strong interest from Purdue, Cincinnati, Toledo and Iowa State.
“He’s going to get multiple offers,” says Holecek, a former NFL linebacker with the Buffalo Bills, San Diego Chargers and Atlanta Falcons.
Football, however, is not his whole life. He’s a member of the school’s Math Club.
“I love working with numbers,” says Dixon.
He also plays basketball.
“I haven’t seen him play basketball,” Rodriguez says. “And I’m sure he’s pretty good. He’s an athlete.”
Notable: Loyola Academy was well rewarded for winning the Chicago Catholic League Blue Division. Lawless Awards went coach John Holecek and senior quarterback Quinn Boyle. Senior lineman Marty Geary was named the Outstanding Defensive Player. The other all-conference picks included junior receiver Rory Boos, junior linebacker Armoni Dixon, junior defensive back Jake Gonzalez, senior offensive lineman Charlie Gross, senior defensive back Charlie Largay and senior linebacker Anthony Rodriguez. … Boyle finished the regular season with 527 rushing yards and 1,397 passing yards. … Geary leads the Ramblers in sacks (5) and tackles for loss (8). … Boos has caught a team-best 26 passes for 583 yards and six touchdowns. … Gonzalez is the team’s third leading tackler (61). … Gross has anchored an offense which has amassed 3,229 yards and outscored the opposition 280-85. … Largay has been in on 41 tackles, including four for losses.