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Broncos post another dominant playoff victory

The Montini football team’s drive to the IHSA Class 6A state championship game at Northern Illinois University’s Huskie Stadium passed through another venue in DeKalb on Saturday. The Broncos faced the DeKalb Barbs in a Class 6A quarterfinal contest. Montini, which overpowered its first two opponents of the 2015 playoffs, turned in another dominant post-season performance against the Barbs.
Montini scored three touchdowns in the first quarter to take a 21-0 lead that held up until halftime. The Broncos piled on another four touchdowns in the third quarter on their way to a 49-14 victory and a berth in the Class 6A semifinals.
Montini, which improved its season record to 12-0, scored all seven of its touchdowns with the advantage of a robust wind that blew from south to north. The Broncos won the opening toss and elected to kick the ball off to start the game while defending the south end zone. Montini also kicked off to start the third quarter, but once again, the Broncos defended the south end zone.
“That was a huge factor for momentum in the early part of the game,” said Montini coach Chris Andriano of the decision to have the advantage of the wind in the opening quarter. “We took advantage of it. We were really able to set the tone with field position.”
The Broncos will face Crystal Lake’s Prairie Ridge High School in this Saturday’s semifinal battle in Lombard. The winner will face either Crete-Monee or Hinsdale South in the Class 6A state championship game, which will take place Nov. 28 in DeKalb.
A semifinal win over Prairie Ridge (11-1) would send Montini to a state title contest for the seventh consecutive season. The Broncos won four straight Class 5A championships from 2009-12 before losing in the Class 5A title game in 2013 and 2014.
If the Broncos do advance to the state title game, they won’t face Springfield’s Sacred Heart Griffin. The Cyclones, who beat Montini in each of the last two Class 5A championship games, lost 38-35 to Crete-Monee in Saturday’s quarterfinal round.
Senior quarterback Justin Blake and junior running back Prince Walker were two of Montini’s offensive standouts against DeKalb, which finished the season with a record of 9-3. Blake ran 13 times for 81 yards and three touchdowns. He also completed seven of 10 pass attempts for 122 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Walker piled up 198 rushing yards on 25 carries and scored one touchdown.
The Broncos scored on their three first-quarter touchdowns on a short run by Walker, a pass from Blake to senior Dylan Maher and a short run by Blake.
The Barbs had a chance to cut into the Broncos’ lead late in the second quarter. DeKalb drove deep inside Montini territory before fumbling the ball near the 10-yard line. The ball bounced into the end zone and junior Mitch West made the recovery for a touchback.
DeKalb’s first drive of the second half consisted of three offensive plays and a punt. Moments later, Blake turned a broken play into a touchdown. He fumbled the snap but picked the ball up off the turf and rolled to his right before leaping across the goal line. Sophomore Michael Cooney added the extra-point kick to raise the Broncos’ lead to 28-0 with about nine minutes remaining in the third quarter.
DeKalb’s next possession with a fumble, which was recovered by Montini senior Reed Taylor. Two plays later, Blake connected with West on a 35-yard touchdown pass.
DeKalb scored midway through the third quarter to cut the Broncos’ lead to 35-7. Junior Will Smith broke a 35-yard touchdown run to help push the lead to 42-7 with about four minutes left in the period. Blake’s 20-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the quarter helped push the lead to 49-7 and generate a running clock—takes place when a lead reaches at least 40 points—for the remainder of the game.
The Broncos opened the season with a 20-17 win over Maine South, followed by a 24-14 victory at East St. Louis. Since then, the team’s narrowest margin of victory has been 19 points (a 27-8 win over St. Francis on Oct. 9). Montini has four shutouts this season. In four other games, the Broncos allowed just seven points. Montini opened the post-season with a 35-7 win over Wauconda, followed by a 42-7 rout of Kaneland.

Willowbrook/AT swimmers qualify for IHSA state meet

Four members of the Addison Trail/Willowbrook girls swim team qualified to compete in the upcoming IHSA state meet with their performances at Saturday’s sectional competition at Downers Grove North High School.
Willowbrook freshman Elissa Haake qualified as an individual in two freestyle events. Haake teamed with Addison Trail junior Annalise Morrone and Willowbrook seniors Melissa Johnston and Meghan Koterba to secure a state-meet berth in a relay event.
Haake finished tied for third in the 50-yard freestyle at the sectional. She completed that race in 24.46 seconds, which met the state-qualifying standard of 24.50 seconds. Haake claimed third place in the 100-yard freestyle, which she finished in 53.16 seconds. The state-qualifying mark in that event is 53.25 seconds.
Haake anchored the 200-yard relay team that produced a second-place sectional time of 1 minute, 38.27 seconds. The state-qualifying standard in that relay event is 1:38.75. Morrone swam the leadoff leg, followed by Johnston, Koterba and Haake.
The state meet takes place Friday and Saturday at New Trier High School in Winnetka.