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updated: 11/2/2013 8:39 PM

Montini rout sets up Marian rematch

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By D.J. Wanberg
Daily Herald Correspondent

After host Montini dispatched Chicago's Morgan Park 43-6 on Saturday afternoon in Class 5A first-round playoff play, Broncos coach Chris Andriano knew exactly what to say about his team's second-round opponent.

That's because both teams know each other really, really well.

Saturday's victory sets up a battle of Suburban Christian Blue rivals as 10-0 Montini will travel to 8-2 Marian Central. The Broncos beat the Hurricanes 40-35 in Week 7.

But what also practically makes an IHSA playoff tradition is that Montini has had to get past Marian in either the second round or quarterfinals of the playoffs during each of the Broncos' four consecutive state title runs.

"You are talking about two very competitive teams and two well-prepared teams," Andriano said.

Montini's defense kept the Mustangs (5-5) at bay, with Morgan Park earning just 83 total yards in offense and no offensive touchdowns.

The Broncos, meanwhile, racked up 316 yards of offense at halftime, led 29-6 after two quarters and were never seriously threatened. But four Montini turnovers had the coaching staff concerned and they stressed to the team that can't happen against Marian Central.

"We were sloppy on certain things. The defense played great. But the offense turned the ball over and you can't do that," Andriano said.

The first five minutes of the game saw Montini recover a Morgan Park fumble, the Broncos' Joshua Belt intercepting a pass and the Mustangs picking off two Montini passes.

The Broncos finally got on the scoreboard with 1:43 left in the opening quarter. Quarterback Alex Wills capped a 9-play drive with a keeper from the 1. Wills passed for 277 yards, 213 of which came in the first half.

"We won as a team, but as offensive leader, I have to do better. I have to make much better reads," Wills said. "Give credit to Morgan Park. They made some good plays."

The Broncos recovered the ensuing kickoff when Morgan Park couldn't come up with it. With just 25.9 seconds left in the first half, Nicholas Italia, who rushed for a game-high 136 yards, scored the first of his 2 touchdowns. A 2-point conversion pass from Tyler Tumpane to Michael Maduko made it 15-0.

In the second quarter, Leon Thornton III, who led all receivers with 94 yards, hit the end zone for the first of his 2 touchdowns with Italia closing out the first-half scoring with his second TD. Receiver Connor Costello scored the final Montini touchdown of the day.

And despite some bumps in the road Saturday, Montini moves on to its next challenge with the hope it can return for another game on its home field.

"This feels amazing. I got a little emotional at the end because I hope it's not our last home game," said defensive lineman Dylan Thompson, who will continue playing next year at Ohio State. "This is the best feeling ever."

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