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They don't call him Leon Thornton III for nothing.
The junior receiver caught 3 touchdown passes from quarterback Alex Wills in Montini's 30-7 Suburban Christian Blue victory over St. Francis on Friday in Lombard.
"It was just me coming out and doing my part for the team," Thornton said. "They wanted me to run some plays backside, 1-on-1 with the guys covering me. I just won, won the battle."
Win No. 1 started at Montini's 17-yard line. Split right, Thornton slanted in, bounced off a Spartan and sprinted down the right sideline for an 83-yard touchdown. He said the play call was to the left, but when "I saw the ball coming to me I just had to make a play."
"I told our kids all week, we can't give up big plays," said St. Francis coach Greg Purnell. "We had two great hits on their first touchdown and we didn't wrap him up, and that's a 70-yard touchdown. The next one was a big play again. You just can't give them big plays, that's all."
Purnell had also stressed finishing offensive drives. On that next play he alluded to, his concern proved telling.
Successive Montini personal fouls had St. Francis (3-1, 1-1) working on first down at the Broncos' 16-yard line to start the second quarter. Broncos safety Derrick Curry promptly returned an interception 92 yards for a touchdown.
"We have a cover-5 where we roll to the hash, and as soon as I rolled the quarterback was staring (the receiver) down, so I just knew it was going to be mine, and I just took off," Curry said.
Montini (4-0, 2-0) led 16-0 at halftime. The Broncos moved 69 yards over the last 2:38 of the second quarter, Mason Weissenhoffer booting a 45-yard field goal with no time left.
"That was a great hurry-up, two-minute drill," said Montini coach Chris Andriano.
Out of halftime Montini forced a quick three-and-out, got field position and Wills threw a 12-yard slant to Thornton to go up 23-0 at 9:04 of the third quarter. Thornton's third touchdown came on a 45-yard fly down the right sideline early in the fourth.
"Yeah, Leon had a coming-out game," Andriano said. "But we knew he's capable of this. Very fast."
St. Francis backup quarterback Clint Bobowski snapped the shutout with a 6-yard run at the end.
Spartans star running back James Butler, who entered the game averaging 13 yards a carry, gained a hard-fought 103 yards on 26 carries. Another Spartans back, Steven Fassnacht, left with a leg injury.
"We just had to contain," said Montini defensive tackle Anthony Ferraro, who met Butler with a 3-yard loss on his first carry. "We knew (Butler) was fast, we knew he was a hard runner. One other key thing we had to work on was wrapping. If we didn't wrap, we knew he could break the tackle and we knew he could gain big yardage."