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updated: 11/23/2012 7:45 PM

Scouting the Class 5A football championship game

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  • Dimitri Taylor of Montini runs the ball during the Montini at Joliet Catholic Class 5A football semifinal action Saturday.

      Dimitri Taylor of Montini runs the ball during the Montini at Joliet Catholic Class 5A football semifinal action Saturday.
    Paul Michna | Staff Photographer


Class 5A football championship game

Montini (11-2) vs. Morris (12-1)

Game time: 10 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium, Champaign.

TV: Comcast SportsNet

Road to the championship: Montini, a No. 3 seed in the northern bracket of Class 5A, beat No. 14 Bremen 54-13, No. 6 Sycamore 24-22, No. 2 Marian Central 42-27 and No. 12 Joliet Catholic 40-37. Morris, a No. 2 seed in the regionally seeded southern bracket, beat No. 7 Rich East 44-0, No. 3 Urbana 65-20, No. 5 Washington 28-27 and a No. 3 seed, Sacred Heart-Griffin, 30-20.

Coaches: Montini coach Chris Andriano, a 2001 inductee into the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame, has a record of 255-119 in 34 seasons all at Montini. The 1970 Palatine graduate has led the Broncos to a 45-18 record in 25 playoff appearances, including the last 20 straight, best among the 5A field. Montini is 4-0 in championship games, winning the 2004 4A title and the last three 5A titles. Morris coach Alan Thorson, who joined the Redskins' staff during their last championship season of 2005, succeeded George Dergo as coach in 2010. Thorson is 27-7 in his three seasons. After losing his playoff debut in 2010 and being eliminated in the second round last year, Thorson has Morris in the title game for the first time since a 5A loss to Metamora in 2007.

Starting offenses:

Montini Morris

Name Ht. Wt. Yr. Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr.

Alex Wills 6-1 195 Jr. QB Zach Cinnamon 5-11 175 Sr.

Dimitri Taylor 5-9 185 Sr. RB Reese Sobol 5-11 175 Sr.

Joey Borsellino 5-11 185 Sr. WR/RB Jeff Perry 6-3 220 Sr.

Mark Gorogianis 6-0 185 Sr. WR/FB Collin Grogan 5-11 205 Sr.

Tyler Tumpane 5-11 165 Jr. WR Anthonee Monson 6-1 205 Sr.

Mike Dusek 5-10 170 Sr. WR/TE Danny Friend 6-5 250 Sr.

David Sarkan 6-0 245 Sr. LT Bryan Henry 6-4 255 Sr.

Tate Briggs 6-5 300 Sr. LG Craig Claire 5-11 260 Sr.

Patrick Strzempek 6-1 191 Sr. C Preston Miracle 6-0 240 Sr.

Anthony Ferraro 5-10 210 Jr. RG T.J. Layne 6-1 210 So.

Phil Kesik 6-2 230 Sr. RT Drew Aldrich 6-3 250 Sr.

Andrew Harte 6-0 175 Sr. K Fernando Del Toro 5-8 160 Sr.

Starting Defenses:

Montini Morris

Name Ht. Wt. Yr. Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr.

Dylan Thompson 6-6 260 Jr. DE Danny Friend 6-5 250 Sr.

Liam Kennedy 5-11 275 Sr. DT Preston Miracle 6-0 240 Sr.

Edgar Ruano 6-0 235 Jr. DT Collin Grogan 5-11 205 Sr.

Fred Beaugard 6-3 245 Sr. DE Mason Soper 6-4 195 Sr.

Mike Maduko 5-10 185 Jr. LB Nick Countryman 5-11 200 Sr.

Nick Sanzeri 5-11 225 Sr. LB Jeff Perry 6-3 220 Sr..

Joe Nitti 5-11 225 Sr. LB Josh Lincoln 5-10 180 Sr.

Tucker Mucha 5-10 175 Sr. S/CB Jake Hogan 5-8 175 Sr.

Josh Belt 5-8 160 Jr. S/CB Mike McNelis 5-9 175 Sr.

James Maloney 5-11 165 Sr. CB/S Jason Matteson 5-11 170 Sr.

Ryan Starbeck 5-11 185 Sr. CB/S Brad Rickard 6-1 190 Sr.

Andrew Harte 6-0 175 Sr. P Preston Miracle 6-0 240 Sr.

When Montini has the ball: It still spreads defenses sideline to sideline, but the Broncos have more yards rushing than passing -- 2,625 to 2,209. Running back Dimitri Taylor has soared in the playoffs, including 159 yards against Joliet Catholic for a total of 1,366 yards, 12 touchdowns. Versatile Mark Gorogianis and Joey Borsellino will still take a few shotgun or Wildcat snaps, but last week Andrew Wills had his best day, completing 17 of 21 passes for 175 yards. The Broncos will use Borsellino however they need to win; he leads Montini with 66 catches, 725 yards and 14 touchdowns but when the team needed short yardage he took the snaps. Morris plays a base 5-2 defense but may go 4-3 against the spread. The Redskins, who lost only to 10-1 Kaneland 33-30 on a score with 27 seconds left, feature Central Michigan-bound Jeff Perry and Indiana recruit Danny Friend. Nick Countryman leads Morris with 91 tackles, Friend and Mike McNelis have 3 interceptions each and Collin Grogan has 8 of a whopping 44 sacks. "Our defense has to step up for us," Thorson said.

When Morris has the ball: The epitome of smashmouth. Thorson said the Redskins' playoff success has been "power football right at people"in a Pro-I. Morris will go double-tight with Friend and Anthonee Monson and work counters or just bull forward. Including quarterback Zach Cinnamon, four backs have at least 459 yards rushing, headed by Reese Sobol with 1,450 yards, 18 touchdowns. Fullback Collin Grogan adds 11 touchdowns in a ground game that averages 255 yards. Morris can surprise people, averaging 18 yards a catch. Cinnamon has completed 50 of 81 passes for 902 yards, 11 touchdowns, 4 interceptions. He'll roll out or play-action and find favorite targets Monson and Friend. But this game will depend on the trenches where Montini linemen Dylan Thompson, Edgar Ruano, Liam Kennedy and Fred Beaugard are as physical as they get. Against Marian Catholic, Joliet Catholic and Palatine they've occupied if not penetrated the line and let linebackers Joe Nitti, Charlie Long, Nick Sanzeri and Mike Maduko run people down.

Intangibles: Montini enters as the favorite, will not be intimidated, and has cultivated an enormous will to win. Andrew Harte, the rare all-state kicker, is 11 of 13 on field goals with a program-record 54 yarder and last week saw a streak of 112 straight extra points end, third all-time nationally. Throwing 16 interceptions, Montini is only plus-4 in turnover ratio, Morris a striking plus-19. Montini could join Providence, Mt. Carmel, Joliet Catholic and former rival Driscoll with at least four straight state titles. "I told the kids, this is the toughest playoff run we've ever had, and for us not to complete this now would really be a shame, and I think we'd be kicking ourselves for the rest of our living days," Andriano said.

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