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Article updated: 9/22/2012 8:48 PM
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Willowbrook settles another score
 

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Willowbrook settles another score
 

Another week, another shot at redemption for Willowbrook's football team.

Saturday in Maywood it was time to turn the tables on Proviso East. Taking advantage of six turnovers, Willowbrook rolled to a 53-14 victory to remain unbeaten in the West Suburban Gold Conference and inch a step closer to a playoff berth.

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Last season the Pirates (0-5, 0-2) pounded the Warriors (4-1, 2-0) 48-6. The memories of that game stayed with Willowbrook -- which went 0-9 last year -- as the touchdowns kept coming on Saturday.

"It feels great beating a team 53-14, obviously," said Warriors senior Dom Battaglia, a third-year starter. "Last year we didn't get that at all. Last year they were very disrespectful of us, and we just knew we had to get it done. We couldn't let them settle in and think they could play with us."

Willowbrook scored in every phase, starting with Paul Yacoub's 27-yard field goal, Battaglia's end zone sack for a safety and Jeremy Barnes' 20-yard touchdown run that put the Warriors ahead 12-0 after a quarter.

Turnovers devastated the Pirates the entire game. They fumbled the ball away five times and Battaglia snared an interception.

But despite breaking out to a 25-0 lead late in the second quarter, Willowbrook actually started sluggish. The passing game wasn't crisp and the run game took a hit when Brandon Smith was lost to injury on the opening series.

Warriors junior quarterback Brian Johnson finished strong, however, ending the game 20 of 29 for 236 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. Barnes carried the load on the ground by running the ball 21 times for 173 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Willowbrook's defense held Proviso East without a first down until three minutes remained in the first half. Pirates quarterback Lawrence Griffin threw for 179 of the team's 180 total yards, but he was also sacked five times and threw the interception at the start of the third quarter.

"We came out flat and we just need to come out stronger," Barnes said. "They like to overpursue and jam the box, so when we started running they had to bring in more pressure and it opened up the field more for us."

In addition to Battaglia's 3 touchdowns and the two by Barnes, Devin Childress and Matt Burns each caught touchdown passes from Johnson.

The road gets tougher for the Warriors as they close in on their first playoff berth since 2007. Downers Grove South, Leyden, Addison Trail and Hinsdale South await in the final four weeks of the regular season.

"We came out flat and not ready to play," said Warriors coach Nick Hildreth. "If that happens from here on out against the teams we play, that's not going to fly. Downers South's (1-4) record does not reflect how good they are. We know what we have in store for us going over there next week."

Follow Kevin on Twitter @kevin_schmit

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