Montini savors Blue triumph against St. Rita

Montini's debut in the Chicago Catholic League Blue Division was a smash.

Facing their toughest opponent so far, the Broncos beat St. Rita 29-13 Friday at Duffy Memorial Stadium in Lombard.

"I've been talking to the kids about that for a few weeks and especially this week, is that 53 years of the football program and we were the first team to play in the Blue," said Montini coach Mike Bukovsky. "We've played Blue teams before, but playing in the Blue, now we can open up the Daily Herald on Monday and we can see Montini is 1-and-0 in the Catholic League Blue. That was our goal."

The game couldn't have started any better for Montini (5-0, 1-0). On the Broncos' first play from scrimmage, left tackle Jeremiah Banks-Wall and left guard Ethan Peska downblocked, St. Rita's defense bit on Nick Fedanzo motioning right, and Broncos quarterback Deontay Bell went off-tackle, sprinting 80 yards untouched to the end zone.

"That first play gave us the momentum to have the confidence to win the game," said Bell, who ran for 120 yards. "We kept on going from there. We had (some) down plays throughout the game, but we bounced back, which is what matters in the end."

Four plays later, with St. Rita third-and-9 from its own 26-yard line, Montini cornerback Jermari Harris jumped an out route and intercepted a pass in stride for a 30-yard touchdown return. Scott West added the kick and Montini led 13-0 at 10:37 of the first quarter.

"Obviously you can't spot a team 13 points within the first minute of the game," said St. Rita coach Todd Kuska.

After West's 23-yard field goal gave Montini a 16-0 lead, St. Rita (1-4, 0-2) caught second-quarter fire on a 53-yard pass and Gavin Mottl field goals of 42 and 22 yards to bring the Mustangs within 16-6 at halftime.

That momentum continued to start the third quarter, as the Mustangs drove 64 yards in 10 plays and quarterback Hayden Ekern scored on 5-yard keeper. Mottl's kick cut the deficit to 16-13 at 8:59 of the third quarter.

St. Rita's attempt to tie on a 35-yard field goal in the third quarter went wide, and Montini countered on Fedanzo's 26-yard touchdown run for a 23-13 lead, set up by Bell's 42-yard completion to Harris.

Montini dealt the knockout blow on its next possession, Fedanzo's 73-yard run to the Mustangs' 4-yard line. Bell's 1-yard run, behind a Fedanzo kick-out block, gave Montini its 29-13 lead with 4:42 to play.

"Big-time players got to make big-time plays, and he did," Bukovsky said of the Illinois-bound Fedanzo.

"I knew how much our coach wanted this," said Fedanzo, who ran for 153 yards on 25 carries. "I mean, this is all for him. We were talking all week about our first game in the Catholic League Blue and how we wanted to open up and get some respect. This means a lot."

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