The Montini football team traveled to Sterling, Illinois this past Saturday to take on the host Golden Warriors with a trip to the Class 5A Championship game on the line. Montini received the opening kick-off and promptly drove down the field in seven plays, scoring on a 15-yard run by quarterback Deontay Bell. After the two sides traded punts on the next two possessions, Sterling drove all the way to the Montini ten yard line but fumbled the ball away to the Broncos, who responded on the ensuing possession as Robert Brazziel connected with Nate Muersch for a 14-yard passing score eight seconds into the second quarter. On the next Sterling possession, Montini defensive end Frank Conforti strip-sacked quarterback Camden Bailey, and the Broncos recovered the loose football. The Broncos found the end zone again on the very next play as Brazziel connected with Muersch on a 29-yard touchdown pass. Montini’s defense forced a punt on the next Golden Warrior possession, which Zach Olson returned 78 yards for a touchdown to increase the lead to 28-0. Sterling responded with a 14-play, five-minute drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by quarterback Cooper Willman to put the Golden Warriors on the board, but neither team was able to add to their point totals before the horn sounded at the end of the half.
Both teams’ defenses clamped down in the third quarter, as the Broncos stopped the Golden Warriors on fourth down to end the first possession of the half while Sterling blocked a field goal try off the foot of Montini’s Scott West. Neither team would score until early in the fourth quarter when Montini’s Nick Fedanzo scored from 16 yards out. Sterling responded with a 14-play drive that ended in a 6-yard scoring run from Bailey. Both teams would add one more score before the end of the game, as Fedanzo scored from 5 yards out and Sterling’s Alek Duran added a 12-yard run in the final seconds. For the game, Fedanzo finished with 89 yards and two scores on 19 carries, while Brazziel was 5-for-11 passing with two scores and Muersch caught three passes for 69 yards and two touchdowns. Linebacker Trevor Swier finished as Montini’s leading tackler with 18, while DiAndre Harris, Jackson Bruscianelli, Fred Stokes, and Mark Gabriel all finished with double-digit tackles. The Broncos forced three turnovers, with fumble recoveries by Conforti and Fred Stokes and an interception by Jermari Harris, while Stokes, Conforti, Patrick Peters, and Matt Ross all recorded quarterback sacks.
With the victory, Montini now advances to the Class 5A championship game this coming Saturday against a familiar playoff opponent in Joliet Catholic Academy, which defeated Hillcrest 42-6 in the other Class 5A semifinal. This will be the sixth postseason meeting between the Broncos and Hilltoppers and the third in a championship game. Montini previously defeated Joliet Catholic 29-28 in the 2009 Class 5A title game and 70-45 in the 2011 contest. The game will be played at Memorial Stadium on the campus of the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, with kick-off scheduled for 10 AM.