Montini grinds out important conference triumph
The orange balloons and T-shirts showed that where Montini football is concerned, Johnny Always Wins.
Johnny Weiger would have appreciated the Broncos returning the favor.
Following Friday's annual ceremony honoring the former Broncos student-athlete who died in November 2012 after battling leukemia and a blood disorder, Montini defeated Chicago Catholic League Green foe Fenwick 28-7 at John L. Duffy Memorial Field in Lombard.
Montini (2-1, 1-0) did what it set out to do -- establish a ground game, play physical and limit the impact of Fenwick's 6-foot-6, 226-pound, West Virgina-bound receiver Mike O'Laughlin. The Broncos intercepted Fenwick three times, twice by Scott West.
"We were physical defensively and offensively," said Montini coach Mike Bukovsky, noting the pass rush of Jalen Slater and Fred Stokes. "I think we set the tone in the first quarter, the first half with those turnovers. I thought that set the tone and offensively we got rolling there."
Courtesy of pressure that forced a 16-yard punt, Montini's no-huddle offense used a short field for the first of Jake Karczewski's two touchdown runs. Matt Quaglia's interception prefaced Karczewski's second score, a 3-yarder for a 14-0 lead at 9:18 of the second quarter.
"(Nick) Fedanzo was playing his heart out the last couple weeks, but we knew Jake was the guy this week," said Broncos quarterback Nick Orlando, pulling double duty at safety. "He scored two touchdowns, I think, right off the bat. That's what we needed from Jake."
O'Laughlin, who finished with 100 yards on 5 receptions, helped Fenwick (2-1, 0-1) pull within 14-7 on a diving, over-the-shoulder catch four minutes before halftime.
Montini stormed right back on Orlando's 72-yard pass to West. Michael Cooney's kick gave Montini a 21-7 halftime lead.
"They were in a Cover-3 look that Nick Orlando and I have been practicing every day, the backside skinny (post). And Orlando, he's got the arm and the speed, I love that about him," West said.
Out of halftime Fedanzo delivered a special teams play Bukovsky had sought, a 68-yard kickoff return to the Fenwick 18. Four plays later Orlando ran in from 1 yard and Cooney's kick provided the final 28-7 margin at 10:18 of the third quarter.
Fenwick back Jason Ivery scored an apparent touchdown on the following possession that was negated by penalty. The Friars reached the Montini 6 in the fourth quarter before pressure from Slater, Stokes and Dominic Antonelli ended the threat.
"Obviously, we thought we were still in the game at halftime," said Fenwick coach Gene Nudo, "and to give up a 70-yard kick return to start the second half, and for them to be in the end zone (four) plays later, it took a little wind out of our sails."