No surprise these high school football teams have rebounded
The start of the high school football season offers a couple surprises.
Traditionally, Montini's 3-0 start would not shock anyone.
The Broncos made 27 straight playoff appearances from 1994-2019 with nine title-game appearances and six state championships, four straight from 2009-12.
Post-COVID, however, the Broncos had gone 7-15 -- 3-6 records each of the last two years and 1-3 in the postponed, shortened spring 2020 season.
Beating Nazareth 24-23 on Sept. 8, Montini started the game with Alex Marre's 91-yard kickoff return for touchdown. The Broncos finished on Nick Irion's block of Nazareth's potential game-winning field goal.
That dropped the defending Class 5A state champions and coach Tim Racki, Montini's longtime rival at Driscoll, to a surprising 0-3 record this young season.
"I'm really happy for Alex and the rest of our seniors," said Montini coach Mike Bukovsky. "They've been through kind of a rough time and have bought in 100 percent. A win like that goes a long way, credit to them."
Beating Nazareth out of the CCL/ESCC Orange, Montini hosts 2-1 Benet in a White division conference game Friday.
Who's to say what the future holds in arguably the state's toughest conference, but Montini is 3-0 for the first time since it was Class 5A runner-up in 2018.
"A win in the Catholic League, I don't care what color it is, it's an achievement," Bukovsky said.
Barrington (3-0) has reversed course from a winless start after three games in 2022, at least on the field.
Coach Joe Sanchez's Broncos opened this season with a 40-33 win over Warren, which entered the year ranked No. 5 in Class 8A.
Barrington then scored 49 points to beat Prospect, No. 8 in Class 7A at the time. Last week the Broncos beat Glenbrook South, 27-19, Devan Van Ness reaping 5 sacks.
In 2022 the Broncos started 0-3 after losing to Maine South. Barrington subsequently earned a forfeit win due to IHSA infractions stripping the Hawks of nine victories.
Sanchez echoed Bukovsky as to why Barrington enters Thursday's game unbeaten against 1-2 New Trier.
"I think one of the reasons for our early success has been the resilience of this group," Sanchez said. "As you know we've played some tough teams these first three weeks and every time we've had to deal with adversity this group has been able to overcome and respond."
Barrington's 2022 campaign -- 4-5 including the Maine South game result -- was an aberration.
Sanchez, who has established a new Mid-Suburban League record with 154 victories, has led Barrington to 16 playoff appearances in the last 20 full seasons. The Broncos' remaining schedule offers five teams currently with 1-2 records.
Like they say, victory comes during the offseason.
"All of that work has increased their investment and commitment to each other and the process it takes to be successful," Sanchez said. "The more you are invested and committed the more you are willing to give and serve for your team."
Downers Grove North (3-0) was on some folks' radar, but the Trojans' 31-7 victory at Glenbard West on Sept. 9 was their first over the Hilltoppers since 2006.
Downers North, which won the Class 8A title in 2004, plays Proviso West and Oak Park, a combined 1-5, the next two weeks. Coach Joe Horeni's Trojans stand a good chance to go in undefeated Sept. 29 when they host York (3-0).
Are Maine West and Mundelein surprise teams at 3-0?
Conference play will hold the answer. Particularly for Mundelein against a North Suburban schedule including Stevenson, Warren, Libertyville, and Lake Zurich.