AURORA – Montini's big match up against Aurora Christian was practically over before it started, but it just brought the Broncos one win closer to their end goal.
Montini beat the shorthanded Eagles, who are attempting to heal up in time for the playoffs, 49-0 in a game they led 42-0 at halftime. Just a few weeks ago a running clock second half would not have been expected between the four-time defending Class 5A champs and the two-time defending 3A winners.
While Montini coach Chris Andriano was disappointed at the missed opportunity to play a big game, the win did seal up the outright Suburban Christian Blue conference title for Montini.
“It’s always a great accomplishment to win conference, but winning state is the ultimate goal," Andriano said.
The Broncos improved to 8-0 and are hoping to finish out an undefeated regular season with a win over Aurora Central Catholic tonight. ACC is coached by Brian Casey, who quarterbacked Montini in 2000.
The Chargers already clinched a playoff spot after an impressive 13-12 win over Marmion last week and have a chance to share the Suburban Christian Gold title with a win. ACC can add to the list of quality opposition Montini has faced this season.
"If you look at our schedule, of the nine teams that we’ve played, eight of them will be in the playoffs if St. Francis wins [Friday night],” Andriano said.
In fact, none of the nine teams on the schedule have a losing record entering the final week of the season. Despite the tough slate, the Broncos have come through unscathed so far.
“That’s pretty incredible," Andriano said. "That’s a great run. Give our kids credit. They’ve worked very hard for this, but when we get to 9-0 then we’re 0-0 [in the playoffs]. None of that matters anymore.”
Montini has gone undefeated twice in the regular season, in 1995 and 2008, but both times the Broncos lost in state quarterfinal games. Going undefeated and winning state would be one way to stand out among the five state championship teams the program has produced.
Andriano commented on the strength of Class 5A, especially the northern half of the class if the IHSA breaks down the playoff bracket geographically. He said as many as eight teams have a legitimate chance to win state.
“The northern half is really loaded," Andriano said. "There’s some really good football teams. It’s going to be a gauntlet again. Whoever wins will have earned it.”
Montini 49, Aurora Christian 0
Passing: Alex Wills 4-for-9, 83 yards, TD
Rushing: Niko Italia 8-64, 3 TDs; Prince Walker 2-63, 2 TDs; Charles Norgle III 11-50, TD
Receiving: Tyler Tumpane 2-52, TD; Leon Thornton III 2-31
Week 9: Montini at Aurora Central Catholic
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: 1255 N. Edgelawn Dr., Aurora
Records: Montini 8-0 (6-0 SCC Blue); Aurora Central Catholic 6-2 (4-2 SCC Blue)
Outlook: For the third time this season and the second week in a row Montini travels to Aurora. The Broncos had little trouble getting past Marmion and Aurora Christian. Aurora Central Catholic is the last foe in the way of an undefeated regular season for the Broncos.