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Broncos make sixth straight trip to the title game

The Montini football program earned its sixth straight berth in the IHSA Class 5A state championship game with Saturday’s overwhelming 52-15 victory over Geneseo in a semifinal game in Lombard. The Broncos dominated the Maple Leafs, who entered the contest with a perfect season record of 12-0. Geneseo could not stop the Montini offense, which guided the home team to a 31-7 halftime lead. Senior quarterback Chuck Norgle fired four touchdown passes in the opening half. Junior Tyler Millikan hauled in three of the touchdown receptions, including an 83-yard bomb midway through the second quarter.
Norgle completed 22 of 30 pass attempts on Saturday for 323 yards and four touchdowns. Millikan made five receptions for 120 yards and three touchdowns, while senior Leon Thornton grabbed eight receptions for 161 yards and one touchdown. 
“We knew we’d be able to throw the ball,” said Norgle after the victory. “We’ve been getting it done on the ground throughout the playoffs. Game to game, if the coaches need me to throw, I’m going to throw. If they need me to hand the ball off, that’s what I’ll do. Our offensive line gave me time. The play calling was awesome. It was a group effort. We played our best game.”
Montini will seek revenge in this Saturday’s Class 5A championship game against Springfield’s Sacred Heart-Griffin High School, which will begin at 10 a.m. at Memorial Stadium in Champaign. The Cyclones beat the Broncos 38-28 in last year’s championship game at Northern Illinois University to end Montini’s string of four straight state Class 5A titles from 2009-12.
“This [Sacred Heart-Griffin] is the team that did it to us [last year],” said Montini head coach Chris Andriano in Saturday’s post-game speech to the players. “They’ll be ready. They’ve got great coaches and great players. This has to be our best and most important game as a program, to come back from last year. You guys have a second chance. We have to be ready. It’s going to be a heck of a football game.”
Sacred Heart-Griffin (12-0) earned a spot in this year’s championship game with Saturday’s 49-21 semifinal victory over Peoria in Springfield. The Cyclones cruised to a 49-7 halftime lead.
Montini, which improved its overall season record to 10-3 with the win over Geneseo, scored on all of its offensive drives in the first half. The first drive ended with senior Mason Weissenhofer’s 31-yard field goal, which gave the Broncos a 3-0 lead with about five minutes to play in the first quarter. Geneseo fumbled the ball away on its ensuing possession; senior Patrick Howard recovered the loose ball at the Maple Leafs’ 30-yard line. Moments later, Norgle threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Millikan.
The Broncos’ next drive featured a juggling catch by Thornton on the first play of the second quarter. Thornton’s diving grab of the tipped pass set up Norgle’s second TD pass to Millikan—a 5-yard connection with about 10 minutes left in the first half. Weissenhofer’s extra-point kick gave Montini a 17-0 lead.
“Our passing game started clicking in the middle of the first quarter,” said Andriano. “We got a field goal and a turnover and we were able to score. That was exactly the scenario we were hoping for—to get an early lead so that we could be relaxed and run what we wanted to do offensively.”
Geneseo, which may have had more fans at the game in Lombard than the Broncos, delivered a touchdown drive on the ensuing series to cut Montini’s lead to 17-7. The Broncos scored about one minute later when Norgle threw a deep ball to an open Millikan, who caught the pass near midfield and sprinted into the end zone for the 83-yard touchdown reception.
“I didn’t expect anything like this,” said Millikan of his explosive performance against Geneseo. “I’m just so happy. It just so happened to be my day.”
The Broncos delivered another long and quick drive on their next possession, moving 80 yards in about 60 seconds. Thornton’s 29-yard touchdown catch completed the drive with about 30 seconds remaining in the first half.
Sophomore Prince Walker’s 21-yard touchdown run completed Montini’s opening drive of the second half and helped build the lead to 38-7. Junior Justin Blake, who relieved Norgle at the quarterback position in the second half, added a short touchdown run with about four minutes left in the third quarter. Blake scored moments after he completed a 40-yard pass to Thornton.
Junior Dylan Maher scored Montini’s final touchdown of the day on a short run with about nine minutes left in the game that helped push the lead to 52-7 and initiated the running-clock rule, which keeps the clock running when a team builds a lead of at least 40 points.
The Broncos’ sixth straight surge into the Class 5A championship game will cause the program’s sixth consecutive holiday-morning practice on Thanksgiving Day.
“This is awesome,” said Andriano of the annual post-season excitement. “It never gets old. Everybody’s doing their part to help us be a good team. My hat’s off to our whole program, and to our kids for the great improvement we’ve made over the course of the year.”

Kelly McNamara wins state title in the butterfly

Willowbrook senior Kelly McNamara won an individual state championship at the IHSA girls state swimming and diving meet on Saturday at Evanston High School. McNamara, a member of the Willowbrook/Addison Trail girls swim team, won the state title in the 100-yard butterfly event. She finished Saturday’s championship race in a first-place time of 54.83 seconds, which was six-tenths of a second faster than the runner-up finisher. She is the first member of the Willowbrook/Addison Trail team—female or male—to win an IHSA individual state championship. “It was really exciting,” said McNamara, who described the IHSA state meet as her favorite meet of the year. “It’s the loudest meet I’ve ever been to. It’s really different from club meets.” McNamara earned a spot in the finals with her time of 54.68 seconds in Friday’s preliminaries. She posted the fastest preliminary time in the event to earn one of six berths in the final. McNamara was a member of a state-meet qualifying relay team as a freshman. As a sophomore, McNamara finished sixth in the 100-yard butterfly at the 2012 state meet. She delivered a second-place finish in the same event at last year’s state meet. “I didn’t think I would do as well as second,” said McNamara of her runner-up finish one year ago. A Villa Park resident and a longtime member of the Villa Park Mariners summer swim team, McNamara began swimming when she joined the Mariners as a 7-year-old in the summer of 2004. She also swims for the Westmont Swim Club. McNamara plans to swim at the collegiate level and has not yet decided which school she will attend next fall.

Rams start with a pair of wins

The Glenbard East girls basketball team began its season with a 50-22 victory at Elgin on Nov. 19. The Rams improved to 2-0 by opening their own Rachel Bach Tournament with Saturday’s 40-20 win over Glenbard North.
Junior Brasia Solid scored 17 points in the win over Elgin. Senior Allison Hansen added 12 points. Hansen poured in 15 points against Glenbard North. She scored nine points in the fourth quarter, when the Rams outscored the Panthers 16-5. Solid provided 12 points.
Glenbard East dropped to 2-1 when it lost its next game of the six-team tournament. Glenbard South beat the Rams 40-29 on Monday. Solid and junior Ashley Brown both scored nine points, while Hansen scored eight points. Glenbard South senior Sydney Bauman finished with 15 points. Junior Payton Carli added eight points for the Raiders.


The Warriors opened the 2014-15 season with a 41-38 loss at Glenbard North on Nov. 18. Willowbrook trailed the Panthers 21-13 at halftime, but a 10-2 surge by the Warriors during the third quarter tied the score at 23-23 with eight minutes to play.
Glenbard North made 25 of 33 free-throw attempts during the game, while Willowbrook converted seven of 12 foul shots.
Junior Josie Zabran provided a team-leading 15 points for the Warriors. Senior Sam Schmidt and junior Kelsee McGowan each scored seven points, while senior Alyssa Ressinger scored six points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
The Warriors earned their first win of the season when they opened their own six-team Thanksgiving tournament with Thursday’s 55-48 victory over East Aurora. Zabran scored 12 points and pulled down 13 rebounds for the Warriors, who held a 39-38 lead at the end of the third quarter. She provided nearly all of Willowbrook’s offense in the closing minutes, scoring 11 of her team’s final 14 points. Zabran scored a pair of baskets early in the quarter. She added a 3-point play that gave the Warriors a 48-43 advantage with about three minutes left in the game. East Aurora responded with a 3-point shot, but Zabran’s inside basket raised Willowbrook’s lead to 50-46. The Tomcats scored with about one minute remaining to cut the lead to 50-48. Zabran scored a layup seconds later to push the lead to four points. Senior Micala Giammarino added one free throw with 17.4 seconds to play. Giammarino scored the last two points of the game by making a pair of free throws with 5.4 seconds remaining.
McGowan, who made six of eight free-throw attempts, scored 12 points to share high-scoring honors with Zabran. Schmidt scored nine points, while Ressinger and junior Alyssa Spada both scored six points. Giammarino added five points.
The Warriors lost their next two games of the tournament, falling to St. Joseph on Friday and St. Joseph on Saturday. Willowbrook will complete the round-robin event with this week’s games against Walther Lutheran and Plainfield East.