ICCP holds on to defeat Montini
With teams with a combined nine state titles since 2008, Montini and IC Catholic Prep's season opener Friday night was a highly anticipated matchup.
Suffice to say, the first game between the former rivals since 2013 didn't disappoint.
Backed by two touchdowns from Malik Gray, the Knights held on for a 17-15 victory over the Broncos before a packed house in Lombard.
"This means a lot," said Gray, who finished with 120 rushing yards on 26 carries. "This was a team effort. If it wasn't for the entire team and if it wasn't for our coaches, we wouldn't have won. I love this team. Everybody on the team contributed and we didn't stop."
ICCP overcame an early 7-0 deficit, with Gray knotting up the score with a 4-yard run late in the first quarter. Brian Kolodziejczyk then gave the Knights the lead for good with a 40-yard field goal shortly before halftime.
The score remained 10-7 until late into the fourth quarter thanks in large part to stellar efforts by both defenses. Evan Raczkowski and Eric Melendez each had interceptions for Montini while Kareem Parker picked off a pass for ICCP. The Knights' Antonio Richardson added a key sack late in the game while also contributing four catches for 48 yards on offense.
"This was a good win in a great environment," Richardson said. "A lot of fans came out for us. Right now we are going to enjoy the moment but then our focus will be on next week.
"They (Montini) are a great football team. But we have a great defensive coordinator who preaches composure. We settled in and played football."
Gray's second touchdown came on a 5-yard scamper into the end zone with just over a minute remaining.
Quarterback Dennis Mandala completed 10-of-19 passes for 127 yards.
"That's the best start to a year we've had in a long time," ICCP coach Bill Krefft said. "I just love this experience. It was amazing to see the kids in this program take over a football game like they did. Montini is a great football team with great kids and a great coaching staff."
The Broncos opened the scoring with a 14-yard strike from Cole Teschner to Mario Florio on the first drive of the game. The home team then scored with 19 seconds left on a double pass, with Estevan Moreno finding Mingo Nixon for a 37-yard TD.
Teschner was 18-of-29 for 170 yards and Josh Robinson ran for 108 yards on 19 attempts.
"We went right down the field (on that first drive), running the ball, throwing the ball," Montini coach Mike Bukovsky said. "Then we didn't do things we needed to do. It's disheartening. We knew we needed to start off strong. Now we've put our backs against the wall and now we have to come through.
"They are a good team and we knew it would be a four quarter game. We had many chances to take control of the game and we didn't. Credit goes to IC, they out executed us in those situations."