But, for openers, let's have a look at the Broncos' 2013 schedule, shall we? (Last year's records in parentheses.)
Aug. 30 Maine South (11-1)
Sept. 7 @ East St. Louis (9-3)
Sept. 13 @ Wheaton Academy (4-5)
Sept. 20 St. Francis (5-4)
Sept. 27 @ Marmion Academy (4-5)
Oct. 4 Immaculate Conception (7-5)
Oct. 11 Marian Central Catholic (11-1)
Oct. 19 @ Aurora Christian (14-1)
Oct. 25 @ Aurora Central Catholic (6-4)
I know what you're thinking, "Whoa! Montini opens up against Maine South and East St. Louis? Is Coach Chris Andriano nuts?"
Hardly. I won't go into all the successes Andriano has had with the Montini program. (Anyone reading this post is probably well aware of them anyway.) But just suffice it to say that Andriano likes challenging his players early. (And he must be right.)
Take last year, for example. The 5A Broncos opened up with a 40-37 victory at 8A Palatine and a 20-14 loss at home to eventual 7A runner-up Lincoln-Way East. The year before, Montini beat Palatine, 26-21, before losing at Loyola, 41-24. (And if I remember correctly, that was the most points the Ramblers gave up all season; and Montini didn't even have its starting quarterback!) In 2010, the Broncos opened up with a couple of losses to Joliet Catholic and Loyola, but I think you're beginning to get the idea: Andriano believes that boxing above Montini's weight class prepares them well for the rest of the season. (Hard to argue with his results.)
So, after the first two non-conference games this year, Montini will face three teams that will be leaving the conference: Wheaton Academy, Immaculate Conception and Aurora Central. And the Broncos will play four schools that will be staying: St. Francis, Marmion, Marian Central and Aurora Christian. Kind of a mixed bag, if you look at their records the last few years.
So is the break-up of the SCC such a great loss for Montini? I don't think so. The Lombard school could certainly compete in either the East Suburban Catholic Conference or the Catholic League while easing up a little on its non-conference opponents. Hard to believe, but a move could actually improve Andriano's already stellar program. Imagine how attractive Montini would be to a prospective player if he could get exposure against teams like Loyola and Mount Carmel, or Joliet Catholic and Marist, every week.
Personally, I'm getting a little tired of watching Montini run away with the 5A crown every year. How about taking it to the next level, Coach Andriano? Take advantage of this opportunity and join up with a bigger conference and maybe even make the jump to 6A. I'm sure the Broncos would do just fine.