Dimitri Taylor is used to flying under the radar. Or in his case, running.
The Montini running back was overlooked last year, despite rushing for 1,110 yards, including 196 yards with a touchdown in the Broncos’ 70-45 victory over Joliet Catholic in the Class 5A championship game.
Montini is back in the Class 5A final again, and this time Taylor has been a much bigger factor in the Broncos’ success. The 5-9, 185-pound senior has carried 171 times for 1,366 yards and 12 touchdowns, despite missing two games early in the season because of injury.
“He’s kind of gone unnoticed because of our passing game,” Montini coach Chris Andriano said. “He doesn’t always get the ink a lot of other guys get, but he doesn’t care.”
But Taylor does care that he will play an important role when Montini (11-2) goes for its fourth consecutive state title. The Broncos face Morris (12-1) at 10 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.
“It’s more enjoyable this year because I receive the ball more,” Taylor said. “I like it that I’m a big factor in the game.”
Taylor repeatedly has proved his worth during the playoffs. He rushed for 90 yards and caught a 26-yard touchdown pass as the Broncos avenged one of their losses by routing host Marian Central 42-27 in the quarterfinals.
He had 169 yards rushing, 55 receiving and three touchdowns last week in a 40-37 semifinal victory over Joliet Catholic. His 10-yard run set up Joe Borsellino’s game-winning one-yard touchdown run in the final minute.
“He’s as complete a running back as you’ll find,” Andriano said. “He’s got good hands, he’s a good blocker and he can run hard. He packs a wallop.”
Because of his relatively modest size, Taylor’s strength is sometimes underestimated, which amuses him.
“A lot of people think they can just bring me down with an arm tackle,” Taylor said. “I don’t believe that will work.”