What happened Friday night at Marian Central was the stuff that becomes legend.
Marian basically spotted the state’s top-ranked team in Class 5A, a three-time defending state champion 17 points, then proceeded to whip Montini every way possible for the final three quarters.
It was almost as if the Hurricanes just wanted to make in interesting.
The 49-24 victory over Montini revealed a lot about the Hurricanes. The defense that allowed 50 points before meeting Montini is as good as advertised. Ed Brucker, who became the traditional power’s winningest coach in school history, is still one of the best around. And quarterback Chris Streveler may just be as the best in a long line of great Hurricanes quarterbacks.
This was one for the ages. Just like that, the ’Canes were down 17-0. They were ticked off and frustrated, but they did not panic.
After running back Ephraim Lee fumbled on the first series, giving Montini a short field, Streveler ran to him at midfield and patted him on the helmet, letting him know everything would be fine.
Streveler fumbled on the next possession, but his teammates picked him up. Once Marian got headed in the right direction, there was no stopping it. By halftime, you sensed it was the Hurricanes’ game … and they still trailed 24-21.
When they scored to start the second half, the victory became more evident.
With each second-half score, the game went from “Will Marian win?” to “When will they take Streveler out?” It was crazy.
“The biggest thing I liked is how our offensive line stepped up and did the job,” Streveler said. “And this was against one of the best teams in the state.”
Montini did not look the same as it has the past three years, but it’s still Montini. Marian sent a clear message to the rest of Class 5A on Friday – the state championship very likely runs through Woodstock this year. With Streveler at the controls, that seemed possible to start the season. Now, it looks like reality.
“Their team speed is incredible,” Broncos coach Chris Andriano said. “We knew they were fast, but their team speed really surprised us. Streveler is one heck of a player. He’s a special D-I player.”
Streveler ran around players and ran over them. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder finished runs like an NFL running back, punishing anyone who dared step in front of him. The Hurricanes have a rich tradition of quarterbacks with Chuck and Jim Hartlieb, Joe Rockers and Jon Budmayr. Streveler falls in line with all of them.
Minnesota quarterback coach Jim Zebrowski was at the game Friday, with an ever-present smile no doubt as the Golden Gophers’ recruit wreaked havoc on Montini.
Brucker, not often one to rant and rave, kept his cool on the sideline after the rough start. He figured his team could just weather the storm and things would be fine.
“I knew we had some things we could do on offense,” Brucker said. “I said, ‘We have a long way to go.’ We just had to get back on track.”
Once they did, it was one of most remarkable and completely dominant performances anyone could see.
“Last year, we said our goal was to beat Montini,” Brucker said. “This year, we’ve said our goal is to beat Montini twice. We’ll probably have to face them again.”
That prospect looks much more encouraging for Marian right now than it does for Montini.
• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.