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Borsellino era at Montini to close — for now
By Dave Oberhelman | Daily Herald Columnist

Montini’s Joseph Borsellino moves the ball during the Montini at Joliet Catholic Class 5A football semifinal action Saturday.

 

Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

MCmontfba_3ps110307MB Photo0653200 Dupage digital Marcelle Bright photo For Dupage Sports/////////////// Montini Catholic High School assistant coach Lewis Borsellino has some words for John McMahon after McMahon attacked the Marian Central Catholic High School quarterback after play was dead, and disrespected a referee who escorted him off the field during their 15-29 IHSA playoff loss in Lombard. McMahon and a teammate were ejected from the game. 2:116Daily Herald 2:2211:0:0:005717

 

Marcelle Bright.

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Published: 11/21/2012 10:06 PM

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What a long, great trip it’s been.

Win or lose Saturday’s Class 5A football championship in Champaign, hugs and tears are sure to be shared by a Montini father and son — Broncos offensive coordinator Lewis Borsellino and senior all-state receiver Joey Borsellino. Dad enters his final game as Montini’s spread offense guru; son is weighing options for his college career.

Thus ends more than a decade’s worth of bubble screens and Wildcat schemes. Since Joey was a tough little tyke at his father’s knee, sporting the same Lombard Falcons colors his father wore 40 years ago, the two have embraced football and family.

“At first he was just my father,” Joey said. “Then I started playing football.”

Wonder where he got that from.

Lewis Borsellino was on the Falcons’ first team of seventh- and eighth-graders, around 1969. Like most every local Borsellino he attended Montini. They join the Westerkamps as the first families of Montini athletics.

A middle linebacker and tailback who played at DePauw, as a senior in 1974 Lewis’ 4 rushing touchdowns against Marian Central set the program record. His 104 solo tackles that season were the mark until last year when Franklin Bruscianelli made 113.

“He lets me know it every time he gets a chance,” said Borsellino, whose daughter, Briana, is a sophomore soccer player at Northwestern.

Coaching youth football in Park Ridge — where receivers Lewis Jr. and current Broncos assistant Anthony, sons from a prior marriage, helped Maine South to 2004 and 2005 8A runner-up finishes — the elder Borsellino started scouting for Maine South coach Dave Inserra. He learned the spread offense from Hawks offensive coordinator Charlie Bliss, who two years ago asked him to be godfather to his first child.

“Not only was it an innovation,” Lewis said of the finesse scheme, “but it was more fun for the kids.”

He installed the spread offense with the Lombard Falcons program when Joey was on the first- and second-grade team with future Montini star receivers Jordan Westerkamp and Anthony Taylor.

Lewis joined the Montini program in 2007, and with coach Chris Andriano they veered to the spread from the option. Voila, Johnny Borsellino, Lewis’ nephew, established a new program receptions record of 76. The rest has been history.

“We just started running the spread offense when these kids were 9, 11, and they started getting better at it, getting better at it,” Lewis said. “They evolved.”

There is a distinction between football field and home life. The coach said there’s not much football spoken at home, unless it’s with Lewis’ wife, Julie, who he calls a “football mom maniac” who cried after hosting her last Broncos’ team dinner.

Still, some of the X’s and O’s get worked out at their Oak Brook home, Joey said.

“I’ll just walk downstairs and see him at the kitchen counter and he’ll say, ‘Come over here.’ And he’s writing up plays.”

It’s difficult for a son to play for a father. No player feels greater expectation. Joey Borsellino thinks his father is “a little bit harder” on him than other players but he likes it, says it makes him play better. And he knows where the line is drawn.

“When he yells at me, I know not to talk back,” Joey said.

Rumor has it that with two 4-year-old grandsons, one day Lewis Borsellino will return to coach.

It’d be hard to top this run with the son he calls “my baby.”

“I couldn’t ask for a better experience,” he said. “I’m in the nursing home business, and I pray to God that when it’s my time to go I don’t have Alzheimer’s.

“I want to remember every little thing.”

One last Saturday remains.

“We love each other as a family, and football makes that love grow more,” Joey said. “I’m fortunate to have him as a coach — and fortunate to be able to go to four straight championships.”

Further incentive

Each of the eight football state champions crowned Friday and Saturday will be honored by the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Dec. 2.

During halftime of the Bears-Seahawks game, the head coach and one player from each of the winning teams will be saluted on the field. The ceremony will include championship game highlights on the Soldier Field video boards.

In addition, the nine men and boys the Bears select as coaches and players of the week will be honored Dec. 2 as well. These included Benet quarterback Jack Beneventi and Redwings coach Pat New and Neuqua Valley coach Bill Ellinghaus, and familiar names Kaneland coach Tom Fedderly and Marian Central quarterback Chris Streveler.

Follow Dave on Twitter@doberhelman1