sticking with it. Why? Mainly because Coach Chris Andriano, above, knows how to win championships. (The Broncos have won the last three 5A titles.)
Morris, on the other hand, hasn't won state since 2005 when it defeated Normal, 14-9. But that wasn't under the current coach, Alan Thorson. In those days, Morris was piloted by the venerable Hud Venerable (his real name). The Redskins' last appearance in the finals was in 2007, when they lost to Metamora, 17-14. Before that, Morris took state in 1980 and '84, but that's ancient history.
Montini, 11-2, is the only team in the top four classes of the finals that I didn't get to see this year. But I did watch the Broncos play Loyola in each of the last two seasons. And last year, the Lombard squad scored more points against the Ramblers than anyone, even 8A champs Bolingbrook. What's more, the Broncos did it on the road without their starting quarterback.
This year, Montini opened up with a 40-37 overtime victory at 8A Palatine and then a narrow 20-14 loss to 7A finalist Lincoln-Way East. These guys are clearly not afraid of anyone. (The only other team to beat the Broncos this season was Marian Central in Week Seven, 49-24. Montini returned the favor, however, two weeks ago with a 42-27 victory over the Hurricanes.) Leading the attack this year were Joe Borsellino and Mark Gorogianis.
On the year, the Broncos outscored their opponents, 440-268, with notable victories over Immaculate Conception, Aurora Christian and Joliet Catholic.
Morris, 12-1, enters the championship game with its lone loss at Kaneland in Week Nine. (And I was there.) The lead changed hands several times, with the Knights eventually prevailing, 33-30. But Redskins' quarterback Zach Cinnamon (great name) almost pulled it out at the end, and the Broncos are going to have to watch out for him.
Morris outscored its opponents this year, 463-190, with key wins over Richards, Washington and Sacred Heart-Griffin.
Montini and Morris had only one common opponent this year, Sycamore, which they both defeated (home team in CAPS):
Week Six: Morris 13, SYCAMORE 0
Week Eleven: Montini 24, SYCAMORE 22
Oddly enough (to me, at least), I can't find a record of these two top programs ever facing each other. Can that be right?
That'll change, of course, on Saturday.
BOWG prediction: Montini 41, Morris 35.
(Expect a high-scoring game; who can forget Montini's 70-45 shootout with Joliet Catholic last year?)