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Arvia: One of Marian’s own a state champ — at Montini

Quarterback John Rhode transfer from Marian Catholic passed for 587 yards seven touchdowns leading Montini 70-45 wover Joliet Catholic Class

Quarterback John Rhode, a transfer from Marian Catholic, passed for 587 yards and seven touchdowns in leading Montini to a 70-45 win over Joliet Catholic in the Class 5A state title game. Patrick Gleason~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 5, 2012 8:20AM



When as many people come to your games for the halftime show as the football, a team might easily develop an inferiority complex.

At Marian Catholic, the football team has a decided glamour deficit beside the Spartans’ marching band, which under the direction of Greg Bimm has won a completely ridiculous 32 consecutive state class championships, 15 overall state titles (including the last three) and has finished in the top 12 in the nation for 28 straight years.

But, given athletic director Dave Mattio has been coaching football since 1976, and Bimm directing the band since ’77, by now everyone’s probably used to the fact that clarinetists are cooler than cornerbacks — at least in one tidy corner of Chicago Heights.

Still, some Spartans must have noticed renewed feelings of second-class citizenship last weekend, while watching Montini dismantle Joliet Catholic 70-45 for the state 5A football title. Montini’s quarterback, John Rhode, was Marian’s starter the previous two seasons.

Rhode threw for 587 yards and seven touchdowns in the win, leaving him with totals of 3,034 and 42 over his eight-game senior season, the beginning of which was delayed as he recovered from a broken thumb suffered in Montini’s final preseason scrimmage.

Another John Rhode, the quarterback’s dad, was thrilled by the outcome, of course. And, though he’s a Marian grad who lives just a few blocks from the school, he’s emerged from what might have been an ugly transfer process with his serenity and sanity intact.

He could even chuckle when I wondered if the decision came down to Marian’s option — young John Rhode passed for 808 yards in 2010 — vs. Montini’s spread.

“Initially, of course, we saw he was unhappy,” the elder Rhode said of his son. “There were a number of things going on — not just football. ... We have a lot of friends and people (at Marian) who care about us, and they were saying things like ‘I never see John smile anymore.’ ”

Rhode, a mortgage broker, works a block away from Montini’s Lombard campus. That the Broncos, two-time defending state champs, needed a new starting quarterback factored little into the decision.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “We didn’t know his ability to read defenses and throw the ball like this.”

The quarterback adapted well. It helped that Marian made it easy.

“Dave Mattio’s been great,” Rhode said. “He had no problem signing off on the transfer.”

With none of the parties objecting, and with Montini, at 28.9 miles from the Rhode house, within the IHSA’s 30-mile radius for eligibility, there were no issues with the transfer. There have been few issues all along, even when the thumb injury occurred.

“Johnny, he was still so happy, we knew it was the right decision,” Rhode said.

Another decision is coming.

Jake Rhode, an eighth-grader at Infant Jesus of Prague in Flossmoor, is a point guard. He was a big part of a team that put together a 91-game winning streak, snapped in IJP’s final game last season.

He may or not be going to the one high school he wouldn’t need a bus pass to attend.

“There’s a lot of Catholic schools Johnny drives by every day to go to Montini,” Rhode said. “One of them may be a good fit if Jake doesn’t go to Marian.”

Any father, if he had the means, would try to send his child to the school that best meets the kid’s needs. Too bad Johnny and Jake weren’t drawn to the Sousaphone.

A poorer Rich Central

If Rich Central’s girls basketball team dips a bit from its gaudy 8-2 record and No. 7 ranking in the area over the next week, perhaps that will be the best news possible for the Olympians.

Thursday at Bloom Trail, players Alex Stanford and Layne Murphy, along with coach Brian Craig, were ejected from the Olympians’ 54-42 win over the Blazing Trojans. Stanford and Murphy were launched in the second and third quarters, respectively — of a game in which Rich Central never trailed — for their histrionic complaints about the officiating.

Of the players’ behavior, Bloom coach Ron Newquist said, “In 29 years of coaching, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

According to the officials’ report, Craig’s ejection owed to “multiple Indirect Technical Fouls” — rules mandate a coach’s ejection for three such fouls, which are earned with each technical assessed to any member of that coach’s team.

All three will miss Central’s Monday game at Homewood-Flossmoor by IHSA rule. Stanford and Murphy are facing longer stints on the bench, of yet indeterminate length, by Rich Central principal Jammie Poole Jr.

“That is not the Olympian way of doing things,” Poole said. “We do want to send the message that that type of behavior will not be tolerated.”



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