Week Nine Preview: Wheaton Academy at Montini

Wheaton Academy (1-7, 0-4) at Montini (6-2, 3-1), 7:30 Friday in Lombard, IL

Wide Receiver Joe Borsellino tries to break away from a Loyola defender. Photo by Tracy Allen~for Sun-Times Media

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

Montini (Second place, Suburban Christian Blue) –

Week One: 26-21 win vs Palatine

Week Two: 41-24 loss at Loyola

Week Three: 13-6 win vs Marmion

Week Four: 21-20 loss at Marian Central

Week Five: 55-14 win vs Aurora Christian

Week Six: 33-14 win vs St. Francis

Week Seven: 59-14 win at St. Edward

Week Eight: 75-0 win at Walther Lutheran

Wheaton Academy (Fifth place, Suburban Christian Blue)-

Week One: 27-14 loss at Westminster Christian (St. Louis, MO)

Week Two: 42-0 loss vs Byron

Week Three: 40-0 loss vs St. Edward

Week Four: 56-12 loss vs St. Francis

Week Five: 41-14 win vs Chicago Christian

Week Six: 24-6 loss vs Marmion

Week Seven: 56-16 loss vs Marian Central

Week Eight: 42-0 loss vs Aurora Central Catholic

OUTLOOK:

Montini comes into this week’s game against Wheaton Academy on a four-game winning streak and fresh off a 75-0 shellacking of Walther Lutheran. The Broncos have outscored their opponents 222 to 42 over that stretch.

Montini’s offense has been on absolute tear since John Rhode took over the quarterbacking duties at halftime of the Broncos’ week six victory over St. Francis. In just over eight quarters of play this season, Rhode has completed 30 his 52 pass attempts for 831 yards and 15 touchdowns. Montini has reached the end zone 21 times and scored 154 points since Rhode entered the lineup. With Rhode healthy and behind center, the Broncos are hitting their stride at exactly the right time. The state playoffs kick-off is just one week away. “John Rhode is a special quarterback. We’ve had him for two full games now. He’s very good at reading defenses and getting the ball to the open guys,” said Montini Head Coach Chris Andriano said after last week’s 75-0 win over Walther Lutheran. “He is a difference maker for us. We should be very well prepared with him when it comes to the playoffs. He’s going to be a big plus.”

Rhode is being helped out by a very talented receiving corp that includes future Nebraska Cornhusker Jordan Westerkamp. In the eight quarters Rhode has played, Westerkamp has caught 15 passes for 328 yards and seven touchdowns. Joe Borsellino has 12 receptions for 170 yards and three touchdowns, and Anthony Taylor has nine receptions for 252 yards and four touchdowns since halftime of the St. Francis game. Borsellino remains a dual-threat as the “JoeCat” offense made an appearance last week. The senior receiver took a direct snap and ran 19 yards for a touchdown on a fourth and two play in the first quarter. Mark Gorogianis, the Broncos’ starting quarterback the first five games of the season, has moved to wide receiver and has caught two passes for 21 yards and a touchdown.

Montini’s defense is also playing at its highest level of the season. The Broncos defensive line, led by Iowa-bound Jaleel Johnson, dominated the line of scrimmage as Walther Lutheran could only muster 24 yards of total offense last week. “That was the best game to date up front defensively. I thought we pretty much snuffed everything out,” said Andriano. “It was very good to see that our run defense and our pass rush became a factor for us today, it was great for our defensive guys.”

If Montini can continue their high level of play on both sides of the ball, the Broncos have an excellent shot at winning a third straight class 5A state championship.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Anthony Taylor, WR, Montini

Taylor has been a big player for the Broncos since Rhode entered the lineup. The senior receiver has caught nine passes from Rhode for 252 yards and four touchdowns. The big-playmaking Taylor has collected most of his yards after the catch, breaking tackles and alluding defenders. Taylor only had three catches last week, but they all went for over 40 yards, including touchdowns of 44 and 56 yards. Taylor combines with Westerkamp and Borsellino to give the Broncos a deep, talented and dangerous group of wide receivers.

PREDICTION:

Get ready for a running clock. Wheaton Academy will not present much a challenge as Montini tries to win their fifth straight game. The Warriors have lost four straight games and their only win this season came against winless Chicago Christian. Rhode should put up big passing numbers again in the Broncos final tune up before the playoffs.

Montini 56 Wheaton Academy 7

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