Sycamore, Montini meet in football playoffs again
Borsellino and Westerkamp.
The names are etched all over the Montini football record books. And Sycamore is more than familiar with the two families’ postseason exploits.
Johnny Borsellino was a receiver for Montini in 2007 when the Broncos defeated Sycamore, 14-3, in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.
Two years later, a pair of Westerkamp wideouts, Christian and Jordan, combined for more than 100 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-17 Montini victory over Sycamore in the quarterfinals.
In 2010, Jordan Westerkamp caught three touchdown passes from his cousin, Matt, in a 28-7 victory against the Spartans in the second round.
On the 2012 team is another Borsellino: Joe, a senior receiver who scored three touchdowns and had more than 100 yards of offense in Montini’s 54-13 first-round win over Bremen.
“The names stay the same, it’s just different faces,” Sycamore coach Joe Ryan said. “They still have phenomenal athletes.”
For the fourth time in six seasons, the Spartans prepare to face Montini, the three-time defending Class 5A state champion, in the postseason.
Sycamore, which has made the playoffs four consecutive years, sees a win over the Broncos as the next step in the program’s development.
“We’re a good team and every team respects us,” junior quarterback Devin Mottet said. “But now we want to get to the great level where we need to beat one of those state-contender teams and make it to the championship or semifinals.”
Yet again it will be a tough challenge. Montini’s (8-2) only two losses this season have come to Marian Central and Lincoln-Way East, both undefeated teams.
Borsellino and running back Dmitri Taylor are Montini’s two most capable playmakers on offense. In past matchups with Montini, Sycamore has been hurt by big plays, Ryan said this year’s defense has been able to keep everything in front of it, making teams earn their points through long drives.
“[The defense] has been the rock of our team this year,” Ryan said. “They’ve been the most consistent out of the three phases. They’re going to have to continue to be, and probably play even better than what they have to date.”
A young Spartans defense has improved as the season has progressed, and a lot of it has to do with the play of Jake Davis. The senior defensive lineman had another three tackles for loss in Sycamore’s 35-13 win over Chicago King in the first round.
“He’s played great for us. It helps so much for the linebackers, for everyone else,” sophomore middle linebacker Brett Weaver said. “He allows the linebackers to scrape and make plays.”
Offensively, it all starts with managing down and distance, something Sycamore has been able to do with an effective running game. Senior running back Austin Culton averages more than 125 rushing yards a game.
“We’re going to have to be consistent up front and that’s the key,” Ryan said. “If we can be consistent in moving the ball, we’re going to have our chances to score. If we have breakdowns and get behind the chains, that’s when they can be successful defensively against us.”
Montini has knocked out Sycamore in the playoffs in three of its past four postseasons. Some of the names on the other sideline are the same, but the Spartans want a different result this time.
“We’re going to have to play one of our best games to beat them,” Mottet said. “And we’re up for the challenge.”