Week 2: Lincoln-Way East vs. Montini Catholic
LOMBARD – When Montini lost its most recent Week 2 dance partner - Loyola, which is headed to Ireland - legendary coach Chris Andriano went looking for a state power to fill the void in the schedule.
Andriano, never one to shy from a big game, couldn’t have found a much more formidable opponent to slide into that slot than Lincoln-Way East. The two teams face off in Lombard Friday at 7:30 p.m. CN100, The Comcast Network, will air the game at Noon and 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 1, and 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 3. The game can also be found with Xfinity On Demand.
“We like to get tested early,” Andriano said. “We really wanted to have as good an opponent as we could find to replace that game. It just fell into place for both of us. It’s a great match-up. It should create a lot of interest.”
Montini, the three-time defending Class 5A state champions, opened up against another big program, Palatine, last week, and came away with a wild, 40-37 overtime road win. The state’s top receiver, Jordan Westerkamp (Nebraska) and quarterback John Rohde graduated, but new quarterback Alex Wills stepped right in against Palatine and had a huge game.
The junior transfer from Wheaton Warrenville South threw for 307 yards and three touchdowns, utilizing returning receivers Joe Borsellino and Mark Gorogianis liberally. Senior running back Dimitri Taylor is another one of Wills’ weapons.
“He really played well,” Andriano said of Wills. “For him to read defenses and throw the ball to the right guy and play that well in Game 1, that was a big step in the right direction. That really gives our offense a lot of confidence.”
Lincoln-Way East, which has reached the playoffs in each of its 11 seasons in existence under Coach Rob Zvonar, is also breaking in a new quarterback. Last year’s Gatorade Player of the Year, Blake Winkler, is plying his trade at Illinois State these days. In steps senior Tom Fuessel. Despite barely playing a year ago, he is a Northern Illinois recruit.
Fuessel has a different style than the gunslinger Winkler, but it proved effective in a convincing 31-6 win over perennial power Carmel last week. He uses his legs, only throwing six passes last week. Running back Kevin Duffin caught a 61-yard touchdown pass from Fuessel and is his biggest weapon on offense.
“Really good athlete, speed, agility, he can change directions,” Andriano said of Fuessel. “He can scramble and hurt you. He’s got great vision for the field. He hasn’t proven himself yet throwing the ball, but he’s athletic, which will give us trouble. We know we have a big challenge trying to contain him.”
Junior lineman Nick Allegretti, leading tackler Adam O’Grady and state champion wrestler Kyle Langenderfer anchor Lincoln-Way East’s defense.
- Paul Johnson, CN100 Correspondent
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