EAST ST. LOUIS — While watching film of (Lombard) Montini earlier this week, East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett saw a few things he wasn't expecting to see from the four-time defending Class 5A state champion Broncos.
"I think they had one or two turnovers and had a couple of penalties. When you think of Montini, you think of a well-coached, disciplined football team that doesn't make many mistakes,'' Sunkett said. "I'm sure they'll have those things cleaned up when they play us.''
Ranked second in the Class 6A state poll, East St. Louis will take on Montini in a battle of elite programs today in the finale of the fourth annual City of Champions Foundation High School Football Classic.
The East St. Louis-Montini game will cap one of the top days in recent metro east high school football history. Led by event organizers and former East St. Louis football greats Julyon Brown and Dana Howard, the '13 event features five schools ranked among the top five in their respective classes in the state.
Montini is ranked first in Class 5A.
"It's a great event and for fans of high school football in Illinois, it doesn't get any better then what you'll see on Saturday,'' Sunkett said. "Both Julyon and Dana deserve a great deal of credit for bringing all of these teams in. It's a big time event.''
Saturday's game: (Lombard) Montini (1-0) vs. East St. Louis (1-0), 5:45 p.m.
Last week: Montini defeated Maine South 21-19; East St. Louis defeated Kansas City, (Mo.) Rockhurst 19-14.
Montini top players (2012 stats): QB: Alex Willis, CB: Derrick Curry, WR: Tyler Tumpane, WR: Matt Brachman, WR: Conner Costello, DT: Dylan Thompson (72 tackles, 20 assists), LB Mike Maduko (92 tackles, 44 assists), DL: Edgar Ruano (54 tackles, 33 solos).
East St. Louis top players: QB Tamarcus Jones (13-of-22 for 155 yards, 2TD's); RB: Natereace Strong (35 attempts, 221 yards, TD); WR: Darrelle Thomas (5 catches, 85 yards, TD); WR-DB Greg Taylor (3 catches, 39 yards, 1 TD); DT: Terry Beckner, LB: Kyron Watson, DB: Travon Prater.
Battle of the defenses: Both East St. Louis and Montini feature lockdown defenses with plenty of NCAA Division I recruits and potential recruits. For Montini, defensive lineman Dylan Thompson has already committed to Ohio State, while cornerback Derrick Curry has received interest from several Southeastern Conference schools including Mississippi State. The East St. Louis defense is led by junior tackle Terry Beckner. Beckner is ranked among the top 20 juniors in the nation by several national scouting services. Line- backer Kyron Watson has committed to Kansas while defensive back Greg Taylor is headed to Missouri.
Notes: Combined East St. Louis and Montini have 12 state titles. In addition four straight Class 5A crowns, Montini won the '03 Class 4A title under legendary coach Chris Andriano who is in his 35th season.
East St. Louis has won seven state crowns.