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Aurora Christian, Montini meet in battle of state champions

AurorChristian quarterback Ryan McQuade keeps ball is met by Immaculate Conception's Riley Ricobene (26) Sean Fentsecond quarter Friday Aurora. |

Aurora Christian quarterback Ryan McQuade keeps the ball and is met by Immaculate Conception's Riley Ricobene (26) and Sean Fenton in the second quarter Friday in Aurora. | Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

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Aurora Christian at Montini

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Updated: November 12, 2012 12:02PM

Two heavyweights take the field Friday night in Lombard when visiting Aurora Christian (Class 3A) meets Montini (5A) in a battle of reigning state champions.

The undefeated Eagles (7-0, 5-0) figure they need a win to keep pace in the Suburban Christian Blue with unbeaten Marian Central, which handed Montini (5-2, 4-1) a 49-24 league loss last week. Marian and ACS do not play this season.

“They’ve got two losses, one to the possible 7A state champion (Lincoln-Way East) and one to the possible 5A state champion (Marian),” said Aurora Christian coach Don Beebe. “But Montini is still a monster program and certainly capable of winning 5A state again (which would be the fourth straight year).

“We’ve played them the last three years and it’s been 138-22 (cumulative score). We’ve gone in and laid an egg and each game was over by halftime. This is a little different (ACS) team. They have a different moxie to them and you hope they’re able to step up to the challenge that presents itself.”

Montini has a multiplier-adjusted enrollment of 1,143, compared to Aurora Christian’s 513.

“We’ve been in the same shoes when we played schools that were bigger than us,” said Broncos coach Chris Andriano, who arguably has the second toughest schedule in the state. “We never look at it as being an underdog, we just try to be the best football team.”

Opponents on Montini’s schedule have won 45 games, second only to (7A) St. Rita (46). The Broncos nonconference slate included a 40-37 win over a strong 8A Palatine team.

“It gets you ready for the playoffs. You need those kind of games to be in pressure situations,” said Andriano.

In contrast, Eagles’ foes this year have just 24 wins.

Injuries could be key.

Montini QB Alex Willis, a transfer from Wheaton Warrenville South who has passed for 1,256 yards with 16 TDs and 10 interceptions, is questionable for the game after leaving last week with a concussion. Junior Jimmy Barron gets the nod if Willis can’t play.

“(Willis has) been hot and cold, which is typical for a first-year varsity starter,” said Andriano. “He’s doing OK, but if he had those numbers with just five interceptions I’d say he’s been pretty darn good.

“Last week we faced a really good team and they took it to us.”

Broncos’ starting CB Matt Diedrick (concussion) has missed the last three weeks and WR Joe Borsellino and RB Dimitri Taylor both missed time earlier in the year.

“Their defense is strong,” said Beebe. “They gave up some points with the turnovers last week but their offense has been getting guys back.’

The Eagles, too, are directed by first-year varsity starter. Senior Ryan McQuade has passed for 1,677 yards with 26 TDs and eight interceptions. His favorite target, Beebe’s son Chad (39 catches, 597 yards), has missed three weeks with a broken bone in his arm. The cast was replaced with a removable brace this week and he began working out but will not play.

Seniors Cory Windle (24-431) and Ryan Suttle (20-206) have helped fill the void, and the Eagles’ running game has also been strong featuring Burlington Central transfer Joel Bouagnon (66-687) and Brandon Mayes (41-379).

“I think they’re doing a great job running the ball,” said Andriano. “(Bouagnon) is a terrific player and can do it all. (Mayes) is a great complement and their passing game is dangerous. Don calls a great game and they make you defend the whole field.”

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