Montini defeats Wauconda
With Prince Walker sidelined because of a hamstring injury, it was time for Will Smith to play a leading role in Montini's playoff opener.
The junior running back responded with an award-winning performance, rushing for 171 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Broncos' 35-7 victory over Wauconda in the Class 6A matchup.
"It's next man up," said Smith, who entered the contest with 1 TD on the fall. "We've had a bunch of injuries. I'm actually a little nicked up. But I just knew I had to come out and play my game and had to fight through it. And I couldn't do it without the O-line, the wide receivers and my coaches coaching me up."
Smith put the home team on the scoreboard with a 4-yard run early in the first quarter after an interception by Luke Sheppard. After quarterback Justin Blake scampered 28 yards to make it 13-0 on Montini's next possession, Smith rattled off a 14-yard jaunt to the end zone six seconds into the second.
"Will had a terrific game," Montini coach Chris Andriano said. "I'm really proud of him. He's been in the shadows all year, but we know how good he is and our kids know how good he is. He could play at a lot of places."
Leading 21-0 at halftime, Smith scored on a 40-yard run on the Broncos' opening possession of the second half. That came one play after his 58-yard TD was negated by a block in the back penalty.
"When we were walking back (after the penalty), they told me to do the same thing," Smith said. "And I just saw an opening and hit the hole."
Blake also found Christian Pirog for a 54-yard strike to increase the margin to 35-0.
Luke Stone added an interception for Montini, which received sacks from Nicholas Malik, Jake Kapp, Brandon Andino, Monte Bey and Jake Karczewski.
"Our defense has been lights-out all year," Andriano said. "They are extremely fast, smart, they win the turnover battle and the coaches do a great job in preparation."
Wauconda, which won its final four games to reach the postseason, lost quarterback Kevin Malisheski and running back Jacob Bicknase to injury in the first half. The Bulldogs got on the board with a 30-yard pass from Antonio Acosta to Tyler Theel in the final minute.
"These kids played tough all year," Wauconda coach Dave Mills said. "We couldn't complete some plays here and there and we ran into a team who is very experienced in the playoffs. We had a couple of injuries, but I tip my hat to our kids, they kept fighting. Montini is just a good team."
Montini advances to the second round where the Broncos will host Kaneland. Those two teams met in the Class 5A semifinals in both 2010 and 2011 with Montini prevailing in each.
"We've had some really good battles with them," Andriano said. "They are a very capable team."