Montini not ready for a day off yet
STERLING -- No rest for the winner.
"Instead of practice on Monday we've got to practice on Sunday," quarterback Deontay Bell said after Montini beat Class 5A semifinal host Sterling 42-20 at Roscoe Eades Stadium on Saturday.
"We've got to start the week strong. We've got to prepare for next week, hopefully we can get a ring."
Fourth-seeded Montini (12-1) will seek a seventh state title next week against No. 14 Joliet Catholic, a 42-6 winner over No. 1 seed Hillcrest. Montini is 2-0 against the Hilltoppers in title games.
"Try to make it 3-0," Bell said.
No. 2 Sterling (11-2) sought its first championship berth after its 2017 season ended in the semifinals as well. Instead Montini led 28-0 early in the second quarter.
Sterling played the second half without quarterback-linebacker Cooper Willman, whose 2-yard touchdown run brought the score to 28-7 at halftime but got clocked in the end zone by a Montini defender for the effort. Also, Sterling got only 3 first-quarter carries for 5 yards from top rusher Negil Bruce, who came in with a bad ankle.
"They don't think it's a concussion, but (Willman) wasn't quite himself," said Sterling coach Jonathan Schlemmer who, like Montini, favored a two-quarterback rotation. "He passed all his tests, but we just thought a little bit better safe than sorry. It stinks, but it is what it is at that point."
With Willman the Golden Warriors were still up against it. Montini flew 64 yards in 7 plays on its first possession, capped by Bell's 15-yard touchdown run and Scott West's kick.
Later in the first quarter Sterling drove to Montini's 10-yard line but fumbled and the Broncos' Fred Stokes recovered. Robert Brazziel's 42-yard pass to West led to the second score, Brazziel's 14-yard fade to Nate Muersch.
Montini led 21-0 at 10:22 of the second quarter after Frank Conforti sacked Sterling's other quarterback, Cam Bailey, who fumbled with Jackson Bruscianelli recovering. Brazziel passed 29 yards to Muersch on a stop-and-go.
"Our defense knew they're a very good offense and we knew what we had to do from the beginning. We just came out hard and plays happened," Conforti said.
Zack Olson drove in another nail when after Sterling went 3-and-out on its next series he returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown and 28-0 lead at 8:48 of the second quarter.
"As soon as I got the ball I made a break for it, and then (track) coach (Chris) Korfist got me that track speed so I was able to get around the edge, get to the end zone," said Olson, who last week against Sycamore returned a kickoff 92 yards to score.
After Willman's costly touchdown run, Sterling could only trade touchdowns with Montini in the second half.
The Broncos' Nick Fedanzo ran for 52 of his 86 yards in the second half with fourth-quarter touchdown runs of 15 and 6 yards. Bell's 43-yard run set up the second score, and he ended with 112 yards rushing.
"I have good stamina," Fedanzo said, "and I just like pounding on the defense and then breaking some long runs at the end."
In the end this group has added to the Montini legacy.
"You need to live up to that as a player and as a coach," said Broncos coach Mike Bukovsky, "and so now we feel like we're going to have our own chapter in the book and we've just got to make sure that we finish it the right way next Saturday."