Many teams would call a 7-4 season a success. Not six-time state champion Montini.
"I think we had a little bit of a crash to earth last year. Maybe we needed that. Maybe we needed to work a little harder," said coach Mike Bukovsky, promoted the same November day Chris Andriano announced his retirement.
Broncos defensive coordinator for 28 years and each of those six titles, Bukovsky knows of which he speaks. Improving intensity and execution has been a focus.
"We just know we've got to play at a little bit of a different level and the guys are excited about doing that," he said.
On top of its first head coaching change since 1979, Montini has another interesting aspect: three quarterbacks. In 2016 Matt Morrissey replaced injured starter Brad Norgle, with Nick Orlando as a Wildcat option. After combining for 18 touchdown passes to just 4 interceptions, all may play quarterback throughout the season, Bukovsky said.
In addition to the dynamite combo of punter Adam Krause and kicker Michael Cooney, the Broncos also have Matt Quaglia, Zach Olson and Nick Fedanzo bringing sprinter's speed to the receiver position. Linebacker Jake Karczewski returns a team-high 61 tackles and also rescued an injury-riddled backfield to lead regulars with 6.6 yards a carry and 7 touchdown runs.
Offensive linemen Sam Jarvis, Josh Hiero, Joe Ciesla and 6-foot-5, 305-pound Mike McNicholas return, though depth is needed up front, especially on defense, where rush end Jalen Slater is the sole returning starter.
Linebacker Jackson Bruscianelli and ballhawk safety Rian O'Connor also return.
Bukovsky seeks consistent offense, intense defense and a return to the norm.
"We want to be playing on Thanksgiving weekend, that's always our goal," he said. "If we don't we're disappointed."
-- Dave Oberhelman
One to watch: The winner of the Week 3 Fenwick-Montini game controls the CCL Green from then on.
Coach: Mike Bukovsky (first year).
2016 record: 7-4, 3-1, second in the Chicago Catholic Green.
Top players: Jackson Bruscianelli (LB, 6-0, 210, jr.), Josh Hiero (OL, 6-1, 231, sr.), Sam Jarvis (OL, 6-0, 215), sr.), Jake Karczewski (RB-LB, 6-0, 195, sr.), Matt Morrissey (QB-TE, 6-4, 205, sr.), Brad Norgle (QB-TE, 6-0, 190, sr.), Rian O'Connor (DB, 5-9, 178), Nick Orlando (QB-DB, 6-2, 195, sr.), Matt Quaglia (WR-DB, 5-11, 162, sr.), Jalen Slater (DL, 6-2, 195, sr.).
Sat, 8/26, Hyde Park at Montini, 3 p.m.
Fri, 9/1, Montini at Lake Zurich, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/8, Fenwick at Montini, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/15, Brother Rice at Montini, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/22, Montini at Marmion, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/29, DeLaSalle at Montini, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/6, DePaul College Prep at Montini, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/13, Montini at Mt. Carmel, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/20, Montini at St. Francis, 7:30 p.m.