LOMBARD – Sycamore’s seniors, led by players like Ben Niemann and Devin Mottet, accomplished so much within the Spartan program, but for the second year in a row the season ended with a loss at Montini.
The Broncos, the four-time defending Class 5A state champion, beat the Spartans 42-20 in a Class 5A semifinal Saturday afternoon in Lombard. Both teams entered undefeated, but Montini led throughout.
“We have a pretty good team and they outplayed us today,” Sycamore coach Joe Ryan said. “That’s for sure. We just couldn’t get enough going.”
Montini scored touchdowns on its first two possessions while Sycamore (12-1) had an interception and a punt to start. The Spartans got on the board in the second quarter after Montini’s Tyler Tumpane fumbled on a carry inside the Broncos’ 5-yard-line and Niemann was there to pick it up in the end zone.
The Broncos (13-0) were not to be deterred. They scored on the ensuing drive to build the lead back up to two scores.
Sycamore's Chris Malone caught a 7-yard touchdown from Mottet with 1:26 left in the half to cut the lead to 21-14, but Montini marched down the field the other way to go into half up, 28-14.
Sycamore didn’t get any closer in the second half.
“It’s never fun to lose,” Mottet said. “It makes it harder that we were in the semifinals, but I couldn’t be prouder than this group of guys. We had a great season. I love every single one of them. This is the closest group of guys I’ve been with in any sport I’ve ever been in.”
Dion Hooker scored Sycamore’s third touchdown on a 4-yard run, but the lead was still 15 points with 9:20 remaining. The Spartans didn’t score again.
It was a harsh ending for a senior class that put together a long list of accomplishments. Three-year varsity players Niemann and Mottet led the charge.
“We won the conference championship for the first time since 1978,” Ryan said. “The first undefeated season since then. The most wins in school history. Ben Niemann is the all-time leading receiver. Do you want me to keep going? It’s a great legacy and a lot of wins. Those boys have 26 wins under their belt on the varsity level.”
Mottet said the Spartans had something to prove this season after not being picked to win the conference.
“We exceeded everyone’s expectations,” the quarterback said. “The town got behind us. Even though we lost today it was a pretty successful season with what we’ve done. We broke records this year with 12 wins. Semifinals for the first time since the bracket expanded to 32 teams. I think we left our legacy and I think it was a great one.”