The buzz in the stands
Are the Cadets for real? And just how for real are we talking?
While four-time defending 5A state champion Montini’s street credibility is never in question, the Cadets’ raised many eyebrows across the Suburban Christian Conference with last week’s 28-10 win at perennial power Marian Central.
Marmion’s defensive line vs. Montini’s offensive line.
Given time to operate, Montini quarterback Alex Wills is the total package, Broncos coach Chris Andriano said. Wills’ season credentials include a five-touchdown pass performance at East St. Louis in Week 2.
“He’s got what I would call a classic, throwing motion,” Andriano said. “He throws over the top with very nice follow-through. He’s a pocket-type kid. He’s got very good feet and he’s got zip on the ball. He can zip it in there if he needs to, and he has very good touch. Right now, he’s [clicking] at every phase of the game.”
Knowing what the Cadets are up against, Marmion coach Dan Thorpe thinks D-linemen such as Joe Talbot and Nick Ferraro need to find their way beyond a formidable Montini O-line semi-regularly to disrupt Montini’s polished, pass-game timing.
“We’ve got to get some sacks,” Thorpe said. “We’ve got to get some QB hurries. We’ve got to be able to stop the run, when they do run the ball. … Any time you play somebody with speed, you’ve got to tackle in the open field.”
The playing surface at Marmion’s Fichtel Field – grass – could be the great equalizer for the Cadets.
“They are a different team playing on grass compared to playing on turf,” Thorpe said of Montini. “If you go back and look at the scores over the last four, five years, they’ve been in close ballgames on grass fields.”
Best-case scenario for the Broncos
One of the bigger, more physical defenses Montini has fielded over the years overwhelms the Cadets’ offense.
Montini’s imposing ‘D’ is highlighted by defensive end Dylan Thompson, an Ohio State recruit, and Oak Park-River Forest transfer Nile Sykes, a major addition this season.
Andriano said teams have been creative in their blocking schemes and pre-snap motion to try to minimize Thompson’s impact at the line of scrimmage.
“There are a lot of smart guys out there, a lot of smart coaches,” Andriano said. “We would probably try to do some of those very same things.”
Best-case scenario for the Cadets
This time, Marmion finds a fourth-quarter solution for Montini.
Although Montini has won the past three meetings, the Cadets have given the Broncos a scare each time. Montini won, 30-22, last year, 13-6 in 2011 and 27-21 in overtime in 2010.
“We’ve been right there, so hopefully the percentages fall in our favor (tonight),” Thorpe said.
As far as late-game stamina goes, Thorpe likes his team’s depth at several positions, including running back, where hobbled standout Jordan Glasgow continues to share the workload at less than 100 percent in a rotation that includes fullback Lucas Warren and two-way performer Mike Montalbano.
Jay Schwab’s prediction: Montini 27, Marmion 17
Like usual, Montini has stood up to a cutthroat schedule, already owning wins over elite programs such as Maine South, East St. Louis and last week’s 30-7 drubbing of St. Francis.
The Cadets figure to give Montini a serious test on what promises to be an energized homecoming at Fichtel Field, but the Broncos are fully accustomed to taking quality teams’ best shots. This year’s Montini team appears to be stouter than usual defensively, so the Broncos’ “Drive for Five” is a realistic possibility.