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The calm at the eye of the Montini storm
By Dave Oberhelman | Daily Herald Staff

Montini quarterback Matt Westerkamp reacts after making a touchdown in the second quarter against St. Francis during playoff football Saturday in Lombard.

 

Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

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Published: 11/10/2010 12:21 AM

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Montini coach Chris Andriano's early reviews of quarterback Matt Westerkamp were not stellar.

"My first memory of him was his arm slot was way too low. His technique was not good. I never thought he'd end up playing quarterback for us," the Hall of Fame coach said of Westerkamp's throwing delivery on the lower levels.

Yet he's here in the Class 5A quarterfinals against Marian Central, the one player who makes the Broncos' spread offense zip or flounder, the quarterback Matt Westerkamp.

"I really believed he was probably going to play on defense, and through his hard work and extra time he corrected some technique things, got the ball higher, and his leadership is just very calm. He just lets his play speak for him."

Calm? Sometimes it gets to the point, Andriano said, chuckling, that Broncos offensive coordinator Lewis Borsellino questions whether Westerkamp "has still got a heartbeat."

The demeanor may differ between the two individuals, but since each family produces quality football players like Sara Lee makes cakes, neither approach can be denied.

Still, while defense is one thing, a Westerkamp at quarterback? Matt was bucking Broncos tradition with that choice.

He's the son of Montini graduate Jim Westerkamp, the third of five brothers who all played receiver there in Lombard John, Tom, Jim, Bob and Chris. Andriano said Anne Westerkamp, an All-America softball and volleyball player at Benedictine, could probably have played football as well. He wasn't joking.

Bob Westerkamp's sons are Christian and Jordan, the former a graduated receiver who caught both the final touchdown pass and winning 2-point conversion in last year's 5A championship, the latter a current two-year starting wideout.

Watching and learning in 2009 behind all-state quarterback Brandon Pechloff, then fending off junior Kurt Gitchell to win the starting spot this fall, Matt Westerkamp is having what Andriano called one of Montini's best seasons, statistically.

Despite missing 2½ early games with a shoulder injury, the senior co-captain has completed 136 of 204 passes 67 percent for 2,134 yards, 24 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions.

The first time Montini met Marian Central this season, a 35-7 Broncos victory, Westerkamp completed 25 of 31 passes for 279 yards and 2 touchdowns. He ran for 3 scores to account for all his team's touchdowns.

In Montini's play of the year thus far the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder split two Marmion defenders with a perfect fade pass to his cousin, Jordan, for a 27-21 overtime victory to claim the Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division title in Week 9.

Matt Westerkamp may be quiet, he may be cerebral, but he's mobile, knows when to eat the ball or throw it away, can connect short or long, locates receivers on the run and is a good listener who takes coaching.

Not a bad arm slot, either.

"I'm really proud of him," Andriano said.

"He's come out of nowhere to lead a state championship team, with a lot of great players. There's a lot of pressure on him, and he's responded and had an unbelievably great year."