Montini stymies St. Francis
Returning starting defensive lineman Jalen Slater and his fellow motivated senior classmates added to the Montini football tradition Friday.
The Broncos not only clinched a playoff berth for the 25th consecutive year with their 49-7 victory at St. Francis, but they also earned a share of the Chicago Catholic League Green title with Fenwick or De La Salle after finishing second last year.
"Definitely better than we did last year, so that's good," said Slater, who is among 11 team captains.
"(Tonight) was more like focusing on getting everything done, getting ready for playoffs. (Twenty-five straight is) a pretty big deal. Not many people can say that about their school so it's special for us."
The Broncos (6-3, 3-1) also were 6-3 in the 2016 regular season. Since early-season injuries and losing 28-27 to Marmion on Sept. 22, they are 3-1 and beat both Fenwick and De La Salle.
"(The Marmion loss) was a little heartbreaking, but we regrouped from it, learned from it," Slater said. "We don't really care who we're playing. Definitely as a team we're paying our best football right now."
If anybody understands the Montini tradition, it's first-year coach Mike Bukovsky, who played on the school's first two playoff qualifiers in 1981 and 1982 -- and both conference champions.
Bukovsky was defensive coordinator under longtime coach Chris Andriano, who retired after the 2016 season.
"We talk about the legacy to these guys all of the time. That's what I want to do is carry that on," Bukovsky said.
"Chris and I were there at the beginning. I've always treated that as very special and to have played for him and to coach with him for 28 years and now to be able to carry on his legacy, that's all part of this tradition."
Montini scored on the first play from scrimmage on a 67-yard run by junior Nick Fedanzo and led 35-0 by the end of the first quarter and 42-0 at halftime.
Fedanzo also scored on the first play from scrimmage in the season-opening 51-8 victory over Hyde Park.
"Coach said we had to start out fast," Fedanzo said. "We're definitely confident going in at what position we are in the playoffs."
Also scoring touchdown runs in the first half were Nick Orlando from the 1-yard line, Matt Quaglia on a 49-yard reverse with a key downfield block by Fedanzo and Jake Karczewski and Zach Olson from 2 and 3 yards, respectively.
Quaglia's score came on the first play after Jermari Harris' fumble recovery caused by Fred Stokes. Karczewski's scored followed Scott West's interception at the St. Francis 41.
Brad Norgle then caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Morrissey for a 42-0 lead after making an acrobatic 24-yard catch. The drive started with Jackson Bruscianelli's fumble recovery caused by Matt Ross at the 12 after the Spartans (1-8, 0-4) drove as far as the 7.
Orlando, Morrissey and Norgle shared quarterback duties in the first half with Norgle scoring on a 40-yard keeper in the third quarter.
St. Francis finished 1-8 again this season under new coach Bob McMillen. The Spartans graduate 12, 10 of whom were healthy to play Friday.
"We were able to play a lot of sophomores and juniors to build for the upcoming season," McMillen said. "They got to learn the speed of the varsity game and we learned some good things about what these guys can do."
St. Francis used three quarterbacks. On the final plays of the game, senior Zach Burke caught a 13-yard TD pass by freshman Tommy Rittenhouse and kicked the extra point.
"Tommy just had a great throw and I just kind of went up and did it. It was definitely a special moment. I'll remember it for a long time," said Burke, who switched jerseys with injured senior Matt Pell.
"I missed (an extra point) in the (Aurora Central) game so I was thinking about that when I hit that ball. I saw it go through and I was so happy."