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Montini's Joseph Borsellino is a bg reason Montini has reached the Class 5A quarterfinals. | Patrick Gleason ~ For Sun-Times Media
Last week wasn't an easy one for defending state champions.
The winners of three of the four biggest classes were in action in the second round of the playoffs. One of them, 2011 8A champ Bolingbrook, saw its title defense end with a 44-33 loss to Neuqua Valley.
Boylan, looking for its second consecutive Class 7A title and third in a row overall, and three-time defending 5A champ Montini both survived to reach the quarterfinals. But each went down to the wire to do it.
Boylan needed a 90-yard punt return on the final play of the game, plus a two-point conversion run, to get past Fenwick 22-21 in Rockford. Montini, meanwhile, got a 34-yard field goal from Andrew Harte in the final seconds to edge Sycamore 24-22 in Lombard.
Bolingbrook, which finished 8-3, dropped two straight in midseason while adjusting to the absence of injured quarterback Aaron Bailey. The Raiders regrouped well enough to avenge one of those losses in their playoff opener, beating Sandburg on the road, and got Bailey back when they faced unbeaten Neuqua.
Bailey, who has committed to Illinois, was every bit as productive as during last year's title run. He ran 31 times for 211 yards and three touchdowns and passed for 77 yards and another score.
But the Raiders had no answer for Neuqua running back Joey Rhattigan, who rushed for 341 yards and five scores, including the go-ahead and clinching TDs in a 68-second span late in the game.
The two defending champs who advanced had their own late-game heroics. Boylan (11-0) seemed to be done after a 21-0 burst put Fenwick ahead in the second half. But Peter Cimino's twisting, turning punt return as time ran out gave the Titans life. Then 241-pound linebacker Zack Mathews bulled his way into the end zone for the winning conversion.
Montini (9-2) fell behind Sycamore 22-21 with 31 seconds remaining, but managed to stay alive thanks to Harte's field goal after two passes from Alex Wills to Joe Borsellino and Borsellino's 12-yard run out of the Wildcat formation.
Game of the week
Call it a toss-up between Boylan's miracle win and Montini staying alive to earn a rematch with Marian Central, a team the Broncos have eliminated each of the past three seasons.
By the numbers
1 – Public League team remaining in the playoffs: Brooks, which is at Evergreen Park in the 4A quarterfinals.
3 – Teams still alive from the East Suburban Catholic (Benet, Joliet Catholic, Notre Dame) and West Suburban Silver (Downers Grove North, Glenbard West, Lyons).
69 – Points scored in a game, accomplished by two teams in this year's playoffs: Palatine in the 8A first round and Oak Forest in the 6A second round.
Week 12 lookahead
The game of the week figures to be Waubonsie Valley (10-1) at Neuqua Valley (11-0) in an 8A quarterfinal at 6 p.m. Saturday. They last met in Week 7 before a standing-room-only crowd at North Central College, when Neuqua won 35-34 in double overtime.
Tag(s): Chicago Catholic White Fenwick Illini Heartland Brooks Southwest Suburban Blue Bolingbrook Suburban Christian Blue Montini Upstate Eight Valley Waubonsie Valley Neuqua Valley Featured Top News