Dimitri Taylor is no longer a secret.
The Montini junior running back ran 15 times for 159 yards with 2 touchdowns, matching his scoring total of all last season, in the Broncos' 26-21 nonconference season-opening win over Palatine at John Duffy Field in Lombard.
"Dimitri is the secret weapon. People are going to start really finding out about this kid," said Montini coach Chris Andriano, facing his high school alma mater for the first time in his 33-year tenure.
Taylor didn't score the game-winning touchdown but provided a game-changing moment.
The visiting Pirates had rallied from a 13-0 hole, Sam Miller and Taylor Hall each scoring in the last 1:20 of the second quarter for a 14-13 halftime lead over the two-time defending Class 5A champions.
On the first play from scrimmage to start the third quarter, Taylor burst through a chasm between Broncos linemen David Sarkan and Tate Briggs and sprinted 65 yards for a momentum-shifting, go-ahead touchdown.
"I kind of knew it was going to come because I read the defense, and I saw that they were, like, spreading out a little bit. We did the sprint draw, they gave me the ball, saw glory to the road," said Taylor, who had put Montini up 10-0 after a quarter on a 25-yard touchdown run behind a block from his brother, receiver Anthony Taylor. Kicker Andre Harte booted 2 first-half field goals for Montini.
Palatine coach Tyler Donnelly, who last season led the Pirates to the Class 8A quarterfinals, saw little glory down Dimitri road.
"That's disappointing, because we worked so hard to get the momentum at the end of the first half and then in one play we give it to them," he said.
Despite the second of Palatine defensive back Jesse Bobbit's 2 interceptions Montini went up 26-14 on Jordan Westerkamp's 1-handed grab of a 7-yard fade pass from Mark Gorogianis with 2:51 left in the third quarter.
The Nebraska-bound Westerkamp caught 7 passes for 106 yards and added punt returns of 50 and 24 yards.
"We just came back," he said. "We never, never say die."
Nor did Palatine. Kurt Becker's interception set the Pirates up at Montini's 33-yard line with 7:14 to play. Bruising back John Serio alternated running plays with Alex Nawrot out of the Wildcat set until Serio's 8-yard run drew Palatine within 26-21 with 5:05 remaining.
Palatine got the ball back once more, starting at its own 12-yard line with 1:57 left, but after two first downs the Broncos finally corralled quarterback Ethan Olles.
"Coach scheduled this game because he thought it would be tough, and to see what we could actually do," said Serio, who carried 23 times for 123 yards. "And we came out here and did what we can."