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Loyola's Cody Sullivan makes the read and breaks for the Fenwick rusher. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Cody Sullivan's right hand looked like something out of a horror movie.
The cast he wore started around his wrist and formed around his hands, essentially becoming a club. It was hard and stained with the day's memories. Sullivan's thumb is broken, and there probably are a few more problems with his hand.
None of that is stopping Sullivan from playing.
Loyola's middle linebacker won't be denied his senior season on the field. After paying his dues for three seasons, this is his first year as a starter.
"He's doing a terrific job," said senior safety Luke Ford, who recently committed to Holy Cross. "There's been almost no learning curve. I have no doubt he will continue to have success for the rest of the season."
Sullivan was a picture of frustration following Saturday's 49-28 win over Fenwick. He was angry with how he and the defense played, allowing three touchdowns to the Friars. All of the scores were longer than 23 yards, including a 69-yard reception early in the fourth quarter.
"Giving up 28 points is unacceptable and embarrassing," said the 6-foot, 220-pound Sullivan, who started in last year's Class 8A championship game against Bolingbrook. "We didn't show what our defense is about. We need to tighten it up and execute better."
Not surprisingly, Sullivan, who lives in Chicago's Edgebrook neighborhood, is hard on himself. Both his father, John, and uncle, Mike, both played major-college football. Both brothers played at Chicago's St. Francis de Sales before competing at the next level.
John Sullivan played at Ohio State from 1985-88, while Mike Sullivan played at Miami (Fla.) from 1986-91, winning two national championships with the Hurricanes. Mike now is an assistant coach with the San Diego Chargers.
"I just know they weren't given too much during their childhoods, so they worked for everything they have," Cody Sullivan said. "I have more than they had growing up. I want to take advantage of the opportunities given to me by working hard and putting forth great effort.
"That's what makes good football players and good people."
Loyola coach John Holecek, who played linebacker at Illinois and then in the NFL, appreciates Sullivan's upbringing.
"This is someone who comes from a real football background," Holecek said. "He's one of the toughest kids we have."
Sullivan hopes to continue playing in college. He still is early in the process and isn't sure he wants a scholarship to a smaller school or try and walk on at a major program.
"I am getting some tape out now from this season," he said. "I am waiting to see how things develop."
Despite the degree of difficulty Saturday, the No. 4-ranked Ramblers still came away with the win to improve to 6-1 overall and 2-0 in the Catholic Blue.
Loyola plays Brother Rice (4-3, 2-1) at home Saturday. A win ensures Loyola of at least a share of first place in the conference.