In Montini’s three-year run as state champion in Class 5A the Broncos have seen a lot of the same foes deeper in the playoffs. Joliet Catholic is one of those teams.
The Hilltoppers and Broncos met in last year’s memorable 70-45 Montini win in the title game to break all kinds of state records. In 2009 the Broncos topped JCA 29-28 in the final.
This year the two powerhouse programs will meet in a semifinal. Montini coach Chris Andriano knows the familiarity alters the dynamic.
“Not too many secrets,” Andriano said. “It should be two great programs, two heavyweights slugging it out in the middle of the ring. It’s going to be a good game.”
Montini vs. Joliet CatholicWHAT Class 5A semifinalWHEN 1 p.m SaturdayWHERE Joliet Memorial Stadium, 3000 W. Jefferson St., JolietRECORDS No. 3 Montini (10-2), No. 12 JCA (8-4)
The Hilltoppers beat Lincoln-Way West 21-20 in overtime to get to the semis. After scoring a touchdown in OT, JCA stuffed the hosts on a two-point try to win the game. USC recruit Ty Isaac is one of the top ranked running backs nationally, but he left in the third quarter with a groin injury after scoring the Hilltoppers first two touchdowns.
Montini needed less dramatics to get by Marian Central 42-27 in Woodstock. Mark Gorogianis continues to go between wide receiver and quarterback, but made his mark from under center against the Hurricanes.
The Broncos’ coaching staff decided to run the option to switch things up from a 49-24 Week 7 loss and it looks like a stroke of genius. Gorogianis ran for 240 yards and five touchdowns on just eight carries.
“We never expected him to have that kind of game,” Andriano said. “We were obviously thinking that we could definitely use him in our running game and that we would be able to control the ball better, but then he ended up breaking some big runs. I think he surprised maybe even himself.”
Normal starter Alex Wills picked up a concussion late in the season and missed the final two regular season games. Wills threw two interceptions early in the first round against Bremen and was pulled. Wills and Gorogianis have split time since.
Either way, Andriano doesn’t expect an offensive show like last year.
“I don’t know how we could ever match that,” Andriano said. “Obviously both teams have some premier players and have some offense, but I don’t think it’s going to be one of those kind of games. I think it will be a little closer to the vest, a little more field position turnover type game. I think the defenses are going to end up dictating who wins this one.”
515 Yards Joliet Catholic running back Ty Isaac ran for in last year’s Class 5A state final against Montini. The USC recruit also scored six touchdowns.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Alex Wills Joliet Catholic will be ready for Mark Gorogianis’ running game after the show he put on against Marian Central. Wills is the primary passer for Montini and the Broncos passed for 587 yards in last year’s state final.