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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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Montini Beats Walther Lutheran 75-0 In The Battle of The Broncos

Montini 75 Walther Lutheran 0

Quarterback John Rhode threw four touchdown passes as Montini completely dominated Walther Lutheran Saturday afternoon, winning the battle of the Broncos 75-0 in Melrose Park.

Rhode has now thrown for over 800 yards and 15 touchdowns in just over eight quarters of play since making his Bronco debut Sept. 30 against St. Francis. Rhode, a transfer from Marian Catholic, missed the first five games of the season recovering from a fractured right thumb.

“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. “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.”

Montini (6-2, 3-1) has won four straight games and has scored 222 points over that stretch.

Rhode’s first touchdown pass of the day came on a 50 yard connection with wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp. Westerkamp also caught a one yard pass for a touchdown in the second quarter. The Nebraska-bound receiver finished the game with 8 catches for 183 yards.

Montini’s second touchdown of the day came out of the “JoeCat” offense. On fourth down and two, Joe Borsellino took a direct snap and ran 19 yards for a touchdown that put Montini up 17-0 with four minutes left in the first quarter.

Wide Receiver Anthony Taylor also had a big day for Montini. The senior caught three passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns, including a 56 yard grab that put the Broncos up 45-0 right before halftime.

Running back Dimitri Taylor had touchdown runs of one and 42 yards for Montini.

Even the Montini offensive lineman got in on the scoring. With eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Walther Lutheran punter Paul Stahlke’s rugby style punt landed in the arms of Tony Michelon and the big junior ran seven yards into the end zone to put the Broncos up 75-0.

Not to be overshadowed, the Montini defense also had a dominant performance. The Broncos defense did not allow Walther Lutheran to get past the 50 yard line and only gave up 24 total yards.

Iowa-bound Jaleel Johnson and the rest of the Montini defensive line wrecked havoc all game long.

“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.”

SCORING PLAYS

FIRST QUARTER

[9:27] MON Andrew Harte 35 yard field goal – 3-0 MON

[7:32] MON John Rhode 50 yard pass to Jordan Westerkamp (PAT good) – 10-0 MON

[4:35] MON Joe Borsellino 19 yard run (PAT good) – 17-0 MON

[2:07] MON John Rhode 44 yard pass to Anthony Taylor (PAT good) – 24-0 MON

SECOND QUARTER

[10:14] MON Dimitri Taylor 2 yard run (PAT good) – 31-0 MON

[4:35] MON John Rhode 1 yard pass to Jordan Westerkamp (PAT good) – 38-0 MON

[2:21] MON John Rhode 56 yard pass to Anthony Taylor (PAT good) – 45-0 MON

THIRD QUARTER

[11:09] MON Dimitri Taylor 42 yard run (PAT good) – 52-0 MON

[7:07] MON Longan Gross 12 yard run (PAT good) – 59-0 MON

[3:55] MON Safety – 61-0 MON

[2:00] MON Jack Williams 45 yard run (PAT good) – 68-0 MON

FOURH QUARTER

[8:30] MON Tony Michelon 7 yard punt return (PAT good) – 75-0 MON

PLAYERS OF THE GAME:

John Rhode, QB, Montini: QB John Rhode: 12-17, 347 yards, 4 touchdowns

Jordan Westerkamp, WR, Montini: 8 recs, 183 yards, 2 touchdowns

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times. It also appears on yourseason.com

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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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Week Six Preview #1: St. Francis at Montini

Montini Star WR Jordan Westerkamp

St. Francis (4-1, 1-1) at Montini (3-2, 2-1), 7:30 Friday night in Lombard

HOW THEY GOT HERE

St. Francis –

Week One: 21-14 win vs Riverside-Brookfield

Week Two: 22-21 win at Vernon Hills

Week Three: 24-6 loss at Marian Central

Week Four: 56-12 win vs Wheaton Academy

Week Five: 58-19 win vs Guerin

Montini –

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

St. Francis and Montini meet this week in a re-match of last year’s first round playoff game that saw Montini hold on for victory on a late goal-line stand. Both squads are fresh off blowout victories last week, and in the case of the Spartans, the last two weeks.

Montini, the two-time defending 5A State Champions, came out of the gate slow, starting just 2-2. The offense, which has been without starting QB John Rhode so far, had trouble getting off the ground until last week when they put up 55 points on Aurora Christian. With Rhode expected back this week, the Broncos hope to build off last week’s offensive explosion. It will be interesting to see how much the Broncos use their “JoeCat” offense with Rhode back behind center. Montini has had a lot of success the last couple weeks when they have put WR Joe Borsellino at QB. Borsellino had 152 yards of total offense and scored four touchdowns (he scored them three different ways: he ran for two, threw for one and caught another) last week against Aurora Christian. The “JoeCat” offense also sparked the late 4th quarter touchdown drive that gave the Broncos the lead over Marmion in week three. With his starting QB back in the lineup, Nebraska-bound WR Jordan Westerkamp should be even more dangerous this week. Westerkamp recently set the state record for most touchdown receptions in a career.

St. Francis has used a bruising, clock-eating offense on their way to a 4-1 start this season. RB Jack Petrando leads the way for a group of runners that tallied 408 rushing yards last week against Guerin. Petrando makes an impact on offense and defense. In the Spartans’ 56-12 victory over Wheaton Academy in week four, Petrando rushed for 124 yards and 4 touchdowns on offense while also returning an interception 69 yards for a touchdown on defense. The Spartans will try to control the game Friday night with their running game. The more clock their offense is able to eat up, the less time Westerkamp and the dangerous Montini offense will have on the field. Marmion executed this strategy against Montini in week three. The Cadets held the ball for the majority of the game, but they were unable to cash in on their long drives with touchdowns and lost 13-6. I believe St. Francis will have the same success at controlling the game with their running game, and unlike Marmion, the Spartans will end at least a couple of their drives with touchdowns.

PREDICTION: St. Francis 28 Montini 24

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