What a long, great trip it's been.
Win or lose Saturday's Class 5A football championship in Champaign, hugs and tears are sure to be shared by a Montini father and son -- Broncos offensive coordinator Lewis Borsellino and senior all-state receiver Joey Borsellino. Dad enters his final game as Montini's spread offense guru; son is weighing options for his college career.
Thus ends more than a decade's worth of bubble screens and Wildcat schemes. Since Joey was a tough little tyke at his father's knee, sporting the same Lombard Falcons colors his father wore 40 years ago, the two have embraced football and family.
"At first he was just my father," Joey said. "Then I started playing football."
Wonder where he got that from.
Lewis Borsellino was on the Falcons' first team of seventh- and eighth-graders, around 1969. Like most every local Borsellino he attended Montini. They join the Westerkamps as the first families of Montini athletics.
A middle linebacker and tailback who played at DePauw, as a senior in 1974 Lewis' 4 rushing touchdowns against Marian Central set the program record. His 104 solo tackles that season were the mark until last year when Franklin Bruscianelli made 113.
"He lets me know it every time he gets a chance," said Borsellino, whose daughter, Briana, is a sophomore soccer player at Northwestern.
Coaching youth football in Park Ridge -- where receivers Lewis Jr. and current Broncos assistant Anthony, sons from a prior marriage, helped Maine South to 2004 and 2005 8A runner-up finishes -- the elder Borsellino started scouting for Maine South coach Dave Inserra. He learned the spread offense from Hawks offensive coordinator Charlie Bliss, who two years ago asked him to be godfather to his first child.
"Not only was it an innovation," Lewis said of the finesse scheme, "but it was more fun for the kids."
He installed the spread offense with the Lombard Falcons program when Joey was on the first- and second-grade team with future Montini star receivers Jordan Westerkamp and Anthony Taylor.
Lewis joined the Montini program in 2007, and with coach Chris Andriano they veered to the spread from the option. Voila, Johnny Borsellino, Lewis' nephew, established a new program receptions record of 76. The rest has been history.
"We just started running the spread offense when these kids were 9, 11, and they started getting better at it, getting better at it," Lewis said. "They evolved."
There is a distinction between football field and home life. The coach said there's not much football spoken at home, unless it's with Lewis' wife, Julie, who he calls a "football mom maniac" who cried after hosting her last Broncos' team dinner.
Still, some of the X's and O's get worked out at their Oak Brook home, Joey said.
"I'll just walk downstairs and see him at the kitchen counter and he'll say, 'Come over here.' And he's writing up plays."
It's difficult for a son to play for a father. No player feels greater expectation. Joey Borsellino thinks his father is "a little bit harder" on him than other players but he likes it, says it makes him play better. And he knows where the line is drawn.
"When he yells at me, I know not to talk back," Joey said.
Rumor has it that with two 4-year-old grandsons, one day Lewis Borsellino will return to coach.
It'd be hard to top this run with the son he calls "my baby."
"I couldn't ask for a better experience," he said. "I'm in the nursing home business, and I pray to God that when it's my time to go I don't have Alzheimer's.
"I want to remember every little thing."
One last Saturday remains.
"We love each other as a family, and football makes that love grow more," Joey said. "I'm fortunate to have him as a coach -- and fortunate to be able to go to four straight championships."
Each of the eight football state champions crowned Friday and Saturday will be honored by the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Dec. 2.
During halftime of the Bears-Seahawks game, the head coach and one player from each of the winning teams will be saluted on the field. The ceremony will include championship game highlights on the Soldier Field video boards.
In addition, the nine men and boys the Bears select as coaches and players of the week will be honored Dec. 2 as well. These included Benet quarterback Jack Beneventi and Redwings coach Pat New and Neuqua Valley coach Bill Ellinghaus, and familiar names Kaneland coach Tom Fedderly and Marian Central quarterback Chris Streveler.
Saturday, glorious Saturday
Beyond Glenbard West, Glenbard North and Montini winning state football semifinals to send them downstate (sorry Benet and Neuqua Valley) ...
Beyond girls state swimming titles by Neuqua Valley's Gia Dalesandro (100 fly, 200 individual medley), Benet diver Taylor Kramer and Downers Grove North's Gabby Sims (100 free) ...
Beyond even Waubonsie Valley's Alyssa Gialamas winning three of four events for swimmers with disabilities in the first time the Illinois High School Association state final has included that distinction, it was a glorious Saturday, Nov. 17.
In Terre Haute, Ind., the North Central College men's cross country team won the Division III national title for the second straight season and the third time in four years. Genius coach Al Carius' Cardinals have now won 15 DIII men's cross country titles. Carius was then named Division III coach of the year for the third time in four years by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
On the other side of the country coach John Thorne's Cardinals football team won its fifth straight first-round Division III playoff game, Naperville Central graduate Nick Kukuc running for a career-high 250 yards in a 41-21 whuppin' of California Lutheran in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Elmhurst College won its first playoff football game in program history, beating host Coe College 27-24. Tim Lester's Bluejays advanced for the on a fourth-down pass between two other Wheatonians, quarterback Joe Furco (Wheaton Warrenville South) to Corey Thonn (Wheaton North) to cap a 98-yard drive.
Wheaton College's women's soccer team advanced to Friday's semifinals for the seventh time and second straight year with a 3-1 win over Washington University of St. Louis. Among many others, the Thunder gets its oomph from the Sharkey sisters, Sydney and Alexa and former Wheaton Academy teammate Jenn Lee.
We'll even throw Loras College of Dubuque, Iowa, in here after the men's soccer team beat Wheaton to gain a trip to the Division III semifinals. Loras athletic director Bob Quinn went to Dubuque from his position as WW South athletic director.
Naperville Central athletic director Andy Lutzenkirchen has announced who will comprise the inaugural class of the Naperville Central High School Athletic Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony is scheduled for Feb. 8, 2013.
Heading the list is household name Candace Parker, basketball superstar out of the Class of 2004. She'll be joined by her brother, pro hoopster Anthony.
Along with them the full class is: coaches Bud Berger and Dick Smith, multisport athletes Ryan Clifford, Steve Bogdalek, Roger Dornburg, Bob Waropay and John Zedrow, the inductee going further back, Class of 1941.
In addition, tennis star Elizabeth Lumpkin, swimming champ Kelly McNichols and wrestler Doug Chirico make up the Redhawks inaugural class.
Follow Dave on Twitter @doberhelman1