WOODSTOCK – Marian Central, which had not faced adversity in its first six football games, made up for it in the first few minutes against No. 1-ranked Montini.
A blown coverage led to one Montini touchdown. The Broncos turned a pair of Marian fumbles into 10 more quick points. With 6:58 remaining in the first quarter, the Hurricanes trailed the three-time defending state champions by 17 points.
And they did not flinch.
“We were completely composed,” receiver Greg Walczak said. “We kept our heads up and knew we would be able to come back.”
Quarterback Chris Streveler and the offense turned unstoppable, while the defense became a rock. By halftime, the Hurricanes had all the momentum, and by the third quarter, they were in complete control.
No. 3 Marian turned one of the state’s best games this week into a 49-24 romp Friday night in a Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division game at George Harding Field.
“That was probably the worst start we could ever have,” Streveler said, “and on a big stage. “You pinch yourself hoping it wasn’t happening. We kept saying, ‘It’s a long game, we can come back.’ ”
Streveler rushed for 131 yards and four touchdowns, while completing 17 of 19 passes for 213 and two more scores. Walczak caught nine balls for 118 yards, and running back Ephraim Lee ran for 137 yards and another score.
Linebacker Chris Daniels and defensive back Ryan Hickey both picked off passes in the second half as the Hurricanes made coach Ed Brucker the winningest coach in school history.
“That couldn’t come in a better game,” said Brucker, cradling a ball commemorating the event. “After the first quarter, we pretty much handled them. I felt early like if we could stop them we’d be all right, but they made it tough. We just had to get back on track.”
Brucker, who is 82-27 in 10 seasons at Marian, passed Dave Proffitt as the Hurricanes’ winningest football coach.
Marian (7-0 overall, 5-0 SCC Blue) fell behind early in the second quarter, 24-7, then started a remarkable run of 42 unanswered points with a pair of Streveler touchdown runs to make it 24-21 at halftime.
The Hurricanes got the ball to start the second half and a 25-yard run by Streveler made it 28-24. Daniels intercepted Montini quarterback Alex Wills on the next play and Wills then left the game with a concussion.
“Beating Montini is a great accomplishment,” Walczak said. “We knew we had it in us. We made some mistakes, but we just kept fighting. We had to pick the defense up with our offense.”
The victory puts Marian in prime position to win its second SCC Blue title, but the Hurricanes suspect a rematch with Montini (5-2, 4-1) come playoff time. The teams have met in the playoffs six times since 2003.
“Streveler’s the real deal,” Montini coach Chris Andriano said. “And No. 22 (Lee) really made some plays. Their team speed is incredible. That surprised us. We had great momentum, but give them credit, they never panicked.”