Jackson Bruscianelli is Mike Bukovsky’s kind of player.
“He’s just a football player, a throwback-type kid,” Bukovsky, Montini’s coach, said of his senior middle linebacker. “Everything you ask him to do, he’ll do.”
Hailing from a great football family, Bruscianelli recorded 136 tackles as a junior. One of eight returning starters on defense, Bruscianelli is a big reason why the Broncos look to show improvement defending the run as they move up in class to the Chicago Catholic League Blue.
“Jackson is an excellent instinctual player, and he’s our emotional leader defensively. We’re looking for him to have a big year,” Bukovsky said. “We have to be better at stopping the run. We put a lot into it.”
Bruscianelli could play in tandem inside with junior Trevor Swier, with Swier going strongside when Montini uses a three-man set. Cam Richardson, Frank Conforti and Fred Stokes return on the defensive line.
The back line of the Broncos’ defense is strong with Jermari Harris, Scott West, Zach Olson, Ray Wojkovich and C.J. Bufkin.
“We have a lot of guys on the back end,” Bukovsky said. “We have to make an effort to improve in the box.”
Bufkin, who transferred back to Montini after a year at Plainfield Central, figures to provide a nice 1-2 punch in the offensive backfield with Illinois recruit Nick Fedanzo.
Fedanzo was clocked running the 100 in 10.9 seconds, was a 1,000-yard rusher as a junior and is poised for even bigger things as one of the state’s best backs.
They’ll run behind a line anchored by Kent State commit Mike McNicholas and junior Jeremiah Banks-Wall.
“[Fedanzo and Bufkin] are two big playmakers,” Bukovsky said. “Nick has raw speed, his speed is really unmatched and he is very powerful, too. C.J. is a very instinctual runner who also does a good job catching the ball out of the backfield.”
Speed shouldn’t be in short supply there or in a deep receiving corps.
West, Matt Ross and Olson are all playmakers, and Bukovsky envisions 6-foot-4 Nate Muersch being a force.
“I think our receiving corps is very good and talented,” Bukovsky said.
Junior Deontay Bell, one of four to compete for the quarterback job this summer, is expected to get the nod in Montini’s season opener. Bukovsky said they’ll take the quarterback position “game by game.”
The Broncos get welcomed to the Blue on Sept. 21 by St. Rita. Crossovers against Marmion and Fenwick won’t be a picnic.
“It will be a grind in the Blue,” Bukovsky said. “We know what we have to do. We have our work cut out for us. We have to be a physical team for nine weeks.”
Coach: Mike Bukovsky
2017 record: 6-4
Jeremiah Banks-Wall jr. OL
Jackson Bruscianelli sr. LB
C.J. Bufkin jr. DB
Nick Fedonzo sr. RB
Jermari Harris sr. DB
Mike McNicholas sr. OL
Nate Muersch jr. WR
Scott West sr. WR
Aug. 24 Hyde Park 7 p.m.
Aug. 31 Christ the King 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 7 Marmion 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 14 St. Joseph 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 21 St. Rita 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 29 at Loyola 1:30 p.m
Oct. 5 at Fenwick 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 12 at Providence 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 19 Brother Rice 7:30 p.m.