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Huntley Plays Tough, Defeats Barrington In Physical Battle

Huntley warms up before Saturday’s game against Barrington.

Huntley 38 Barrington 31

Huntley head coach Marty Manning said he scheduled Barrington to expose his Red Raiders to the type of physical play that awaits the team in the upcoming state playoffs.

Manning got what he wanted as Huntley outlasted Barrington 38-31 in a defensive grinder Saturday night in Huntley.

“They were very physical with us, they fought through all our screens. Coming from the MSL, they play a lot of bigger teams, and I guess you could say a lot of better teams,” said Huntley guard Bryce Only, who had nine points and six rebounds off the bench. “That’s going to help us in the playoffs, we have four or five teams that play pretty physical basketball in regionals.”

The game was typified by the competitive battle inside between Huntley (24-2) sophomore Amanze Egekeze and BarringReton (18-9) senior John Schneider. Egekeze, who led the Red Raiders with 10 points, said he knew going into the game that it would be a tough night for him.

“I knew he was going to try to bottle me up, so I tried not to let it get to my head and just keep cool. Obviously, I’m not the strongest guy, so it was a tough battle there, I just tried to help out,” said Egekeze. “The main thing for me was just keeping my cool. He did the same thing to me last year, and I lost my way and let him get to me. This time I thought I did a better job, I took what he gave me and was able to capitalize on the opportunities.”

Schneider led the Broncos with 13 points, 11 of them in the second half. Barrington head coach Bryan Tucker thought his team could have gotten Schnieder more touches.

“I just think we probably could have gotten the ball inside a little more in the first half, and it could have been a different story,” said Tucker. “Our kids started getting it into Schneider, and in the second half, he did some really good things for us.”

Huntley led wire-to-wire, but the Red Raiders were never able to pull away from the Broncos. Huntley led 9-5 after the first quarter and went into halftime up 15-11.

The Red Raiders were ahead 25-22 going into the fourth quarter and quickly expanded their lead with a 7-2 run to begin the final frame. Egekeze’s layup with four and a half minutes left gave Huntley a 32-24 lead, their biggest of the game.

Brad Zaumseil (10 points) hit a three-pointer with 29 seconds left to pull the Broncos within three points at 34-31.

The Red Raiders were then able to knock down their final four free throw attempts and held on for the victory.

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times and yourseason.com
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One More Miracle?: Saturday’s Divisional Round Playoff Picks

Saints (-3.5) vs 49ers

The second round of the playoffs kick off with what will probably be the most competitive game of the weekend. The Saints, who have never won a playoff game in an opposing team’s stadium, will most likely have to win two such games to reach the Super Bowl.

A lot of people seem to be already penciling the Saints in to the NFC title game, but this will not be an easy game. New Orleans doesn’t play as well on the road and their defense is average to below average.  The Niners boast one of the leagues’ best defenses, they’re one of the healthiest playoff teams in recent memory, and they have the luxury of home field advantage.

I still think the Saints will win, but it won’t be easy, and I will not be shocked if the 49ers pull off the upset.

Unsung Hero: Robert Meacham, NO; The Niners defense has been great in 2011, but they have been susceptible to the big play. Meacham and Devery Henderson should be able to slip by the Niners’ secondary for a big play or two.

Pick: Saints 24 49ers 22

Patriots (-13.5) vs Broncos

For the Broncos to win this game, everything will have to break their way. They’ll have to get constant pressure on Tom Brady and force him into a few turnovers. Tim Tebow will have to play a perfect game, and the Denver running game will have to consistently move the chains and eat up clock.

It won’t be easy, but the way things have gone for the Broncos this season, nothing is out of the question.

Still, I think this is the end of the road for Broncos and their folk hero. In his first career road playoff start, Tebow won’t be able to keep up the scoring pace with Brady, Gronk, Welker and the rest of the Pats offense.

But really, who knows, it’s Tebow.

Unsung Hero: Patrick Chung, NE; The Pats can’t let Tebow come up with big plays, and they should be able to force him into a few turnovers. Watch for Chung to make some noise with a forced turnover or two.  Chung, one of the best players on the Patriots’ below average defense, missed most of the season’s second half, including the first meeting with the Broncos.

Pick: Patriots 38 Broncos 14

 

 

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Class 5A Playoff Mini-Previews: The Quest For A Montini Three-Peat Begins

The IHSA football playoff pairings were announced Friday night, at about the same time I was watching the most painful football game (or sporting event) I have ever witnessed. Damn you Spartans. Anyway, I’m going to post my thoughts on the match-ups involving the teams I saw this season in person. Here is the first installment of my mini-previews, focusing on the 5A games. I’ll post the mini-previews of the 6A, 7A and 8A games tomorrow.

#6 Montini (7-2, 4-1) vs #11 Woodstock North (7-2, 5-1), Sat. Oct. 29, 1 pm in Lombard

Montini WR Jordan Westerkamp dives for a catch in last year’s Class 5A championship game

Montini, the two-time defending 5A state champion, enters the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the state. The Broncos have won five straight games and have outscored opponents 276 to 50 over that stretch.

The Broncos offense has transformed into a powerhouse since John Rhode took over the quarterbacking duties at halftime of Montini’s week six game against St. Francis. Rhode missed the first five games of the season recovering from a broken right thumb. In just over 10 quarters of play this season, Rhode has thrown for 1,100 yards and 22 touchdowns. Rhode has a strong stable of wide receivers to target. Jordan Westerkamp, a Nebraska recruit, is the star of the receiving corp, but Joe Borsellino and Anthony Taylor are talented weapons as well.

“There is really only one expectation for us, that’s to play in the final game,” said Montini Head Coach Chris Andriano after last week’s 54-6 victory over Wheaton Academy.” We’ve been very blessed with some great kids, great coaching staff, great teams and we’ve been able to be in that game and actually win that game the last two years so that’s our expectation, we want to practice on Thanksgiving day and play on Thanksgiving weekend.”

Montini’s two losses came without John Rhode and at the hands of two 9-0 teams (Loyola and Marian Central).

The IHSA didn’t give the Broncos any favors with their seeding. Despite the way Montini has looked in recent weeks, the Broncos were only given a six seed, and a rematch with 9-0 Marian Central likely awaits in the quarterfinals.

Woodstock North won a share of the Fox Valley Fox division crown this season in only the school’s third year as a varsity squad. The Thunder overcame a 15 point halftime deficit last week in their 47-35 victory over Grayslake North.

The Thunder, led by 5-7 fullback Ryan Wade, are a run-first team. They rushed for 333 yards during the second half of their comeback win last week. Wade had 33 carries for 189 yards in total last week.

PREDICTION:

It’s hard to see Montini losing their first round game, but Woodstock North offense will present a challenge. Montini has done well against strong running offenses this season, defeating Marmion and St. Francis, giving up two touchdowns combined in those games.

Montini 38 Woodstock North 17

#8 St. Francis (7-2, 3-2) vs #9 Burlington Central (7-2, 4-1), Sat. Oct. 29 7 pm at College of DuPage

St. Francis WR Michael Hanson against Marmion

This class 5A 8/9 match-up features two teams with run-heavy offenses entering the playoffs with multi-game winning streaks.

St. Francis heads into the playoffs on a three-game winning streak. The Spartans’ two losses to this season came to two highest ranked 5A teams, 9-0 Marian Central and 7-2 Montini.

St. Francis features a run-first offense, led by running backs Jack Petrando and Jeff Rutkowski. Petrando is more the workhorse but Rutkowski scored four touchdowns (two rushing, two receiving) last week against St. Edward.

Burlington Central, second place finishers in the Big Northern East division, have outscored opponents 151-17 during their current four game winning streak. The Rockets have only lost two games this season by a total of five points.

The Rockets offense is led by running back Joel Bouagron. The 6’1, 205 lb. junior has rushed for 376 yards and five touchdowns over the last two weeks.

PREDICTION:

Burlington Central 28 St. Francis 24

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Montini Rides Rhode To Victory Over Wheaton Academy

Montini cruised to victory under Friday night lights in Lombard.

Montini 54 Wheaton Academy 6

It’s hard to imagine a team getting off to a better start than Montini did Friday night. Quarterback John Rhode threw three touchdown passes in the first three minutes of the Broncos’ 54-6 victory over Wheaton Academy in Lombard.

Rhode finished the game completing 18 of his 25 pass attempts for 328 yards and seven touchdowns. Rhode has now thrown for more than 1,100 yards and 22 touchdowns in just over 10 quarters of play since coming back from a broken right thumb.

“With John back in the offense, everything has opened up a lot more. We’ve been executing, coaches have been making great calls, we’ve just been adapting to defenses,” said the Nebraska-bound Westerkamp. “John is an unbelievable kid. He’s got a great arm, he just fits this offense so well.”

Interceptions by Montini defensive back Joe Cione on back-to-back possessions led to touchdown passes of four and six yards by  Rhode on his first two pass attempts of the game.

Rhode threw a four yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp on Montini’s first offensive play of the game and the Broncos led 7-0 just 14 seconds after kickoff.

Rhode’s six yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Joe Borsellino gave Montini a 14-0 lead just a minute into the game.

Running back Dimitri Taylor took a shovel pass from Rhode and ran 41 yards into the end zone just two minutes later, and the Broncos led 21-0 with nine minutes remaining in the first quarter.

“We can put points on the board in a hurry, so if the defense can get us the ball like that, we’re going to score,” said Montini Head Coach Chris Andriano. “It’s nice to see that we are able get those leads and get teams into our kind of game.”

Rhode threw touchdown passes to five different Bronco receivers. Westerkamp (7 catches, 105 yards) and Borsellino (5 catches, 74 yards) both had two touchdown grabs, while Mark Gorogianis, Anthony Taylor and Dimitri Taylor each had one.

“Our quarterback is the guy who makes it all work, but our receivers are really good. It’s a very special group of kids,” said Andriano.

Wheaton Academy (1-8, 0-5) quarterback Drew Decker threw a two yard pass to wide receiver Mark Lindsay early in the second quarter for the Warriors’ only touchdown of the game.

Montini, the two-time defending 5A state champion, enters the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the state. The Broncos have won five straight games and have outscored opponents 276 to 50 over that stretch.

“Everything seems to be rolling. We can’t wait to find out who we’re going to play in the first round. We’re really excited to get started,” said Westerkamp.

“Hopefully we can keep this up in the playoffs and win a state championship again.”

SCORING PLAYS

FIRST QUARTER

[11:46] MON John Rhode 4 yard pass to Jordan Westerkamp (PAT good) – 7-0 MON

[10:55] MON John Rhode 6 yard pass to Joe Borsellino (PAT good) – 14-0 MON

[9:03] MON John Rhode 41 yard pass to Dimitri Taylor (PAT good) – 21-0 MON

[6:54] MON John Rhode 21 yard pass to Joe Borsellino (PAT good) – 28-0 MON

[3:38] MON John Rhode 30 yard pass to Mark Gorogianis (PAT good) – 35-0 MON

[0:52] MON Andrew Harte 20 yard field goal – 38-0 MON

SECOND QUARTER

[7:56] WA Drew Decker 2 yard pass to Matt Lindsay (PAT blocked) – 38-6 MON

[6:21] MON John Rhode 14 yard pass to Anthony Taylor (PAT good) – 45-6 MON

[3:26] MON John Rhode 11 yard pass to Jordan Westerkamp (PAT good) – 52-6 MON

[1:05] MON Safety – 54-6 MON

PLAYER OF THE GAME:

John Rhode, QB, Montini: 18-25, 328 yards, 7 TDs

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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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Week Eight Preview #2: Montini at Walther Lutheran

Montini (5-2, 3-1) at Walther Lutheran (2-5, 1-3), 1 pm Saturday in Melrose Park, IL

Montini WR Joe Borsellino looks for a hole

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

Walther Lutheran (Fifth place, Suburban Christian Gold) –

Week One: 63-32 loss at Byron

Week Two: 41-32 win vs Phillips

Week Three: 34-7 loss vs Guerin

Week Four: 41-6 loss at Immaculate Conception

Week Five: 49-21 loss at St. Francis

Week Six: 48-6 loss vs Aurora Christian

Week Seven: 28-26 win vs Aurora Catholic

OUTLOOK

The two-time defending state champion Montini Broncos are rounding back into championship form just at the right time. The Broncos have won three straight games after starting the season 2-2, and have scored 30 plus points in every game.

The Broncos’ surge is due in large part to the addition of quarterback John Rhode. Rhode, a senior transfer from Marian Catholic, missed the first five games of the year while recovering from a thumb injury. Rhode has been exceptional since he took over the quarterbacking duties at halftime of the Broncos’ week six game against St. Francis. In just six quarters of football, Rhode has thrown 11 touchdown passes including five to star wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp.

Rhode completed 17 of his 21 pass attempts for 349 yards and eight touchdowns last week against St. Edward. Yes, Rhode threw EIGHT touchdown passes in last week’s game. Rhode has a stable of solid targets to throw to, including future Nebraska Husker Westerkamp. Westerkamp caught three passes, all touchdowns, for 101 yards last week. Joe Borsellino, who has also taken snaps in the “JoeCat” offense this season, caught eight passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns. Mark Gorogianis, the starting quarterback for the first six games, has moved to wide receiver and caught a touchdown pass last week.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Joe Borsellino, WR/QB, Montini

The versatile Borsellino has been one of the most important players for the Broncos this season. When the offense was struggling before Rhode came back from injury, Borsellino gave the Broncos a jolt with the “JoeCat” offense. In the Broncos’ week five victory over Aurora Christian, Borsellino had 152 yards of total offense and four touchdowns (he scored them three different ways: he ran for two, threw for one and caught another). With Rhode back and playing well, it will be interesting to see if the Broncos will break out the “JoeCat” again at some point. Even if he’s just needed as a pure wide receiver, Borsellino will still contribute greatly to the Broncos. He caught eight passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns last week.

PREDICTION

Montini 56 Walther Lutheran 7

Walther Lutheran will not pose much of a threat to Montini this week. Get ready for a running clock, Rhode and the Broncos should roll to another dominant victory.

After playing 2-5 Walther Lutheran, Montini finishes off the season with a home game against 1-6 Wheaton Academy. Montini should be heading into the playoffs with a 7-2 record, fresh off a five game winning streak. The addition of Rhode has to make the Broncos one of the favorites to win the 5A title this season.

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Checking In With The Best Teams I’ve Seen This Season

Glenbard North (5-1, 3-1), tied for second in the Dupage Valley Conference

Glenbard North QB Brian Murphy escapes a tackler against OPRF

WHAT HAVE THEY DONE SINCE WE LAST MET?

Week Five: 31-21 win versus Aurora West

Week Six: 6-10 loss at Naperville Central

REMAINING SCHEDULE:

Week Seven: vs Wheaton-Warrenville South (3-3, 1-3)

Week Eight: at Wheaton North (5-1, 4-0)

Week Nine: vs Naperville North (4-2, 3-1)

RANDOM STATS:

Have outscored opponents 216 to 51

Opponents have tallied 25 wins

Star running back Phil Jackson has rushed for 605 yards and 12 touchdowns

OUTLOOK:

The Panthers offense struggled last week as Glenbard North lost their first game, 10-6 to Naperville Central. Phil Jackson went over 100 yards rushing again, but he was only able to reach the end zone once. Most troubling for the Panthers, starting QB Brian Murphy was knocked out of the game with an injury. Murphy runs well and he had a break out game through the air three weeks ago against Glenbard East when he threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns.

The Panthers end the season with a tough stretch of games against three of the best teams in the Dupage Valley Conference. That stretch could get even more challenging if the Panthers are missing their starting signal caller.

Wheaton North (5-1, 4-0), first place in the Dupage Valley Conference

Wheaton North QB John Peltz winds up to throw

WHAT HAVE THEY DONE SINCE WE LAST MET?

Week Six: 38-7 win versus Aurora West

REMAINING SCHEDULE:

Week Seven: vs Naperville Central (4-2, 3-1)

Week Eight: vs Glenbard North (5-1, 3-1)

Week Nine: at Wheaton-Warrenville South (3-3, 3-1)

RANDOM STATS:

Have outscored opponents 196 to 95

Opponents have won 28 games

QB John Peltz has thrown for 970 yards and 9 TDs, he also has 6 rushing TDs

OUTLOOK:

The Falcons have won four straight games, but the competition is about to get a lot tougher. Their previous three opponents have combined to win three games this season. However, their next three opponents have combined to win 12 games, and are all part of the four-way tie for second place in the DVC.

The Falcons are led by quarterback John Peltz who has thrown for 970 yards and nine touchdowns this season. Peltz is the best quarterback I have seen this season, and the Falcons will need him to keep performing at the level he has been playing at if they are to hold on first place in the DVC.

Montini (4-2, 2-1), tied for second in the Suburban Christian (Blue) Conference

Montini star WR Jordan Westerkamp

LAST GAME: 33-14 win versus St. Francis

REMAINING SCHEDULE:

Week Seven: at St. Edward (4-2, 1-2)

Week Eight: at Walther Lutheran (1-5, 0-3)

Week Nine: vs Wheaton Academy (1-5, 0-3)

RANDOM STATS:

Have outscored opponents 171 to 117

Opponents have won 33 games

WR Jordan Westerkamp has 28 receptions for 514 yards and 9 TDs

OUTLOOK:

After starting the season off 2-2, things are looking up for the defending 5A State Champions. The Broncos have won their last two games against solid conference opponents, Aurora Christian and St. Francis, and have done so in impressive fashion. Montini has outscored their last two opponents 88-28.

Montini’s schedule was front loaded. They lost two early games, but both defeats came at the hands of 6-0 teams, Loyola and Marian Central.

Montini got a boost last week from the debut of quarterback John Rhode. Rhode, a transfer from Marian Central, missed the first five games of the season while recovering from a thumb injury. Rhode took over the quarterbacking duties at halftime, and looked great, tossing three touchdowns in the second half. Two of those touchdowns were caught by star wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp.

The Rhode-Westerkamp connection may take the Broncos to another state championship this season.

Addison Trail (6-0, 4-0), first place in the West Suburban Gold Conference

Addison Trail RB Anthony Messina runs back a kick

LAST GAME: 35-0 win at Proviso East

REMAINING SCHEDULE:

Week Seven: vs Glenbard West (6-0, 4-0)

Week Eight: at Willowbrook (0-6, 0-3)

Week Nine: vs Downers Grove South (6-0, 3-0)

RANDOM STATS:

Have outscored opponents 172 to 13

Opponents have won 22 games

Have posted 4 shutouts this season

OUTLOOK:

Addison Trail is off to the best start in school history thanks to its stifling defense. Led by linebackers Kevin Kent and Mike Imperiale, the Blazers have shut out four of their opponents, and have only given up 13 points through six games.

The Blazers have two tests against undefeated teams left on their schedule, and both games are at home. In between they face a hapless Willowbrook squad that recently lost 48-7 at home to Proviso East on homecoming. First up is a meeting with Glenbard West this Friday night. The Hilltoppers may be without starting QB Justice Odom, who was injured Saturday in a win over Proviso West. AT ends the season with a de-facto West Suburban Conference Championship game against Downers Grove South.

Is the Blazers defense as dominant as the stats suggest? We will find out over the next three weeks.

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