LOMBARD – Even before Montini and Marian Central met in Week 7, the Broncos knew they would see the Hurricanes a second time.
Those predictions came true when the two Suburban Christian Conference rivals won first round games last week to set up a meeting in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs.
“An annual two-game series, that’s what it’s become,” Montini coach Chris Andriano said.
“We’re just used to doing it. We know we’re good teams and we usually advance to see each other in the second round, quarterfinals. We were fully mentally prepared for this.”
Montini beat Morgan Park 43-6 on Saturday with three passing touchdowns and one running score from quarterback Alex Wills. Niko Italia had two rushing touchdowns, Leon Thornton caught two scores and Conner Costello caught a TD, as well.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes cruised to a 42-8 win at Bremen.
The first time Montini and Marian played this season, the Broncos won 40-35 in a game that wasn’t quite as close as the final score – Montini led 40-21 in the fourth quarter and the Hurricanes scored the final touchdown with 8.5 seconds left.
It was one of two games Montini won by single digits so far this season and it was the most points the Broncos’ defense has allowed.
“We know we’re better than that and I got faith in our defense,” senior cornerback Josh Belt said. “If we come together as a team, we’re unstoppable.”
Senior wide receiver Tyler Tumpane starred with four touchdowns in the first meeting and the Hurricanes will likely be more watchful of him.
Thornton and Costello may see more of the action at wide receiver.
The chess game that Andriano expects to emerge between the coaching staffs in how they plan for a rematch is what makes the second meeting all the more interesting.
This is the fifth year in a row the rivals have met in the postseason. Montini has won the previous four playoff meetings.
“There are adjustments that you need to try to make and of course the team that loses [the last time] is willing to make more adjustments and take more risks and change more than the team that wins,” Andriano said. “It’s such a mental strain to prepare for a good team two times.
“I believe it’s a one touchdown game.”
Montini has had several games against high level opponents and every opponent gets fired up to knock off the four-time defending Class 5A champs, but playing Marian draws a little more excitement from both teams.
“It definitely psyches everyone up,” Costello said. “We just try and play our hardest and see what happens.”
Up next: Montini at Marian CentralWhen: 6 p.m. SaturdayWhere: George Harding Field, 1001 McHenry Ave., WoodstockRecords: No. 1 Montini 10-0, No. 9 Marian Central 8-2Outlook: This rivalry gets another chapter in its now plentiful playoff history. Montini has knocked out Marian four straight years in the playoffs. The Broncos won the regular season meeting 40-35 in Lombard in Week 7 and have to travel to Woodstock, site of last year's state quarterfinal, this time around.