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Scouting the Class 5A football championship

Montini's Jordan Westerkamp catches a pass on Montini's game winning drive against Kaneland during their semifinal game Saturday in Maple Park.

 

Steve Berczynski | Staff Photographer

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Published: 11/26/2011 12:37 AM

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Joliet Catholic (11-2) vs. Montini (8-3)

10 a.m. Saturday in Champaign, Comcast SportsNet

Road to the final: Joliet Catholic beat Lincoln-Way West 48-14; Morris 41-7; Washington 56-7; and Sacred Heart-Griffin 49-7. Montini beat Woodstock North 49-14; Sterling 35-10; Marian Central 52-27; and Kaneland 35-31.

Playoff history: Joliet Catholic is the most successful program in Illinois history with a state-record 13 championships. The Hilltoppers have made the playoffs in 35 of 38 seasons since the state series debuted in 1974. Joliet Catholic's last title came in 2007 in Class 6A. Montini, in its 19th consecutive playoff appearance and 24th overall, is the two-time defending 5A champion. The Broncos rallied to defeat Joliet Catholic in the 2009 title game with a last-minute touchdown and 2-point conversion, 29-28. Montini also won the 2004 Class 4A title.

Coaches: Joliet Catholic coach Dan Sharp is in his 15th year at Joliet Catholic with a record of 160-29. He went 24-18 in four seasons at Minooka. Montini coach Chris Andriano is in his 33rd season, all leading the Broncos, with a lifetime record of 243-117.

Probable starting offenses:

Joliet Catholic Montini

Name Ht. Wt. Yr. Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr.

Craig Slowik 6-0 185 Jr. QB John Rhode 6-0 195 Sr.

Tyler Reitz 5-7 180 Jr. FB Dimitri Taylor 5-10 170 Jr.

Ty Isaac 6-2 215 Jr. RB/WR Jordan Westerkamp 6-1 200 Sr.

Malin Jones 6-1 210 Sr. RB/WR Anthony Taylor 6-0 180 Sr.

Isaac Grashoff 5-11 220 Sr. WR Joey Borsellino 5-10 170 Jr.

Zach Rezin 6-2 210 So. WR Mark Gorogianis 5-11 175 Jr.

J.B. Butler 6-4 250 So. LT David Sarkan 6-1 225 Jr.

Carson Smith 6-3 220 Sr. LG Tate Briggs 6-4 280 Jr.

Pat Kripp 6-1 250 Sr. C Brian Piper 5-11 205 Sr.

Jalen Hansel 6-2 250 So. RG Brady Powers 6-0 190 Sr.

Jake Jankowski 6-3 250 Sr. RT Jim Lowery 6-4 280 Sr.

Isaac Grashoff 5-11 220 Sr. PK Andrew Harte 5-11 160 Jr.

Probable starting defenses:

Joliet Catholic Montini

Name Ht. Wt. Yr. Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr.

Matt Frolik 6-2 230 Sr. DE Mike Kaiser 5-11 195 Sr.

Matt Mammosser 6-2 240 Jr. DT Jaleel Johnson 6-4 300 Sr.

Nick Collofello 5-8 190 Sr. DT Josh Rogers 6-2 230 Sr.

Josh Falk 6-5 205 Sr. DE Fred Beaugard 6-3 250 Jr.

Matt Madrigal 6-1 195 Jr. OLB Mitch Lydon 5-9 180 Sr.

Austin Bolton 6-0 220 Sr. MLB Franklin Bruscianelli 6-0 220 Sr.

Mike Passo 6-2 180 Sr. OLB Mike Maduko 5-9 175 So.

Dominick Allen 5-11 176 Sr. DB/FS Tucker Mucha 5-9 170 Jr.

Malin Jones 6-1 210 Sr. DB/SS Tim Mikeworth 6-0 185 Sr.

Brody Wilhelmi 6-0 170 Sr. DB/CB Joe Cione 6-3 200 Sr.

Adam Collins 5-11 190 Sr. DB/CB Kyle Nastasowski 5-9 160 Sr.

Isaac Grashoff 5-11 220 Sr. P Andrew Harte 5-11 160 Jr.

Joliet Catholic's offense (446.1 yards per game, 47.8 points per game) vs. Montini's defense (277.9 yards allowed per game, 16.8 points allowed per game): No one runs a tighter double-wing misdirection offense than Joliet Catholic. Montini's 4-3 defense has seen the basic set before, most efficiently by St. Francis, but JCA's Jones and Isaac are faster. Jones, a Naperville resident headed for Northwestern, has run for 1,424 yards, 25 touchdowns; Isaac, with offers from Michigan, Notre Dame and others, has run for 2,114 yards, 36 touchdowns. Slowik has completed just 48 passes but for a whopping 26.2-yard average, mainly to Isaac and Grashoff. Montini, led by Bruscianelli with his program-record 175 tackles, will load the box to stop the run, adjusting its looks constantly. The Broncos must also avoid getting sucked up against the play-action pass. The key: limiting Joliet Catholic's yardage on first and second down to force obvious passing situations. "They're going to get their yards," Andriano said. "We've got to find a way to limit their points."

Montini's offense (379.9 yards per game, 40.8 points per game) vs. Joliet Catholic's defense (298.4 yards allowed per game, 15.6 points allowed per game): The passing numbers are great Rhode has completed 69 percent of his throws for 2,447 yards, 35 touchdowns, only 4 interceptions. Westerkamp, the state's career leader in receptions yardage and touchdowns, has caught 78 passes for 1,342 yards, 24 touchdowns; Borsellino 62 catches for 868 yards, 9 TDs; Anthony Taylor for 842 yards, 7 TDs. While Andriano and offensive coordinator Lewis Borsellino will try to give Westerkamp every shot at the all-time receptions record of 234 he's 11 away the Broncos' ground game must be a big factor. Dimitri Taylor has run for 914 yards and 9 touchdowns, but the rush also includes instances of Borsellino in the Wildcat formation and even under center. Joliet Catholic tries to take away deep passes with safeties over the top, but that can work to Montini's penchant for receiver screens and swing passes that stretch defenses horizontally. Rhode must capitalize on blitzing linebackers by plinking and plunking for long drives downfield. "I don't think we're going to score fast against these guys," Andriano said.

Intangibles: Joliet Catholic hasn't forgotten the 2009 title game, which at the time was a David vs. Goliath upset. Montini also recalls the 2010 opener, a 21-7 Hilltoppers win. Joliet Catholic is an outstanding plus-26 in turnovers (no interceptions); Montini is only plus-2. Kicking is a draw: Broncos kicker Harte is 7-for-8 on field goals with a long of 41 yards; Grashoff is 4-of-6 with a long of 42. Neither team's will can be doubted, particularly after Montini rallied from 10 points down against Kaneland to get here. "We've got to see if we can limit their offense and then maybe have a shot at a 2-point play at the end of the game," Andriano said. "Because we'll go for 2." It's been proven.

Dave Oberhelman