Back in August, even late September, Montini-Aurora Christian was a marquee football game. It's not so funny how injuries can change things.
Down 10 injured starters, including all offensive skill position players save tailback Legend Smith, two-time defending Class 3A champion Aurora Christian was in no shape to handle four-time defending 5A champ Montini. The Broncos won 49-0 in their first visit to Suburban Christian Blue Division school.
"It didn't turn out to be the game that we wanted it to be, unfortunately, the injuries that they had and that they were missing so many of their players," said Montini coach Chris Andriano, who pulled starting quarterback Alex Wills with 7:10 remaining in the second quarter, up 35-0.
"It was a letdown," agreed Broncos middle linebacker Mike Maduko, "but we needed this to get back up on our feet and roll into playoffs."
Montini (8-0, 6-0) rolled from the start, forcing a three-and-out then scoring on its second play, a Wills bubble pass Tyler Tumpane broke 47 yards. Scoring on its next two possessions, a pair of Nikko Italia 7-yard touchdown runs put Montini up 21-0 after a quarter.
It wasn't supposed to be like this.
"In that respect it is disappointing, for both me and Chris," said Aurora Christian coach Don Beebe. "We were talking before the game, and it just wasn't meant to be. Because this was going to be the marquee game when you looked at the schedule -- 5A and 3A going at it. But it is what it is."
Luck also didn't favor Aurora Christian (5-3, 3-3). A high punt snap, a fumble on a kickoff return and an interception by Montini's Josh Belt all led to short fields and second-quarter Broncos touchdowns.
Italia, who totaled 64 yards on 8 carries, scored his third touchdown on a 14-yard scamper. Then freshman tailback Prince Walker took over.
Walker's only 2 carries resulted in touchdown runs of 21 and 42 yards to give Montini a 42-0 halftime lead.
"We have an amazing line, and it makes it amazing to run. It's just better at this level," said Walker, who tallied his third and fourth varsity touchdowns.
"It helps me get better as a player and makes me a better team player as I progress. I have to do the same with my freshman buddies."
As the running clock ticked Montini backup quarterback Charles Norgle III clicked, running 6 times in an 80-yard touchdown drive. Norgle capped the scoring on a 6-yard jaunt with about 3:50 left in the third quarter.
Legend Smith, out by halftime himself, ran for a team-high 49 yards for an Aurora Christian squad held under 100 yards of offense.
Good news is Beebe anticipates nearly everyone back for the playoffs, which gives seniors such as Eagles linebacker Jon Czerwinski something to look forward to.
"It's a team game," Czerwinski said, "and we'll look forward to having the components of our team back that will be able to make plays."