Knowing all too well that five wins does not guarantee a playoff spot, Hinsdale South wanted a win badly at Willowbrook Friday night.
And thanks to a huge night running the ball by junior Arian Toney, the Hornets got just that. Toney rushed for 293 yards and 3 first-half touchdowns as Hinsdale South knocked off the Warriors 41-22 and ensured itself a berth in next week's playoffs.
Willowbrook, which like the Hornets closes the regular season at 6-3, scored on its first possession and later led 15-10 in the second quarter before the visitors scored 21 unanswered points to close out the half. Toney had TD runs of 66, 13 and 32 as Hinsdale South took a 31-15 lead at the half and never trailed again.
"I'm estactic," said Toney, a 5-foot-9, 190-pound fullback. "It's playoffs baby. We're in the playoffs."
The Warriors game-planned around stopping 1,000-yard rusher DJ Deolitis, the Hornets' speedy quarterback. But they had no answer for Toney, who gained 11 yards on his first carry and followed that up with a 66-yard score for an early 7-6 lead.
"If we come out like we did today our playoff run will be short-lived," Warriors coach Nick Hildreth said. "Our biggest concern was DJ, but we were very aware of what the fullback could do. They just handled us and our reads were slow."
Dom Battaglia, starting in place of regular quarterback Brian Johnson, tossed a 49-yard TD pass to Zach Brunig to cap the night's first drive and give the hosts a 6-0 lead. Johnson later threw a TD pass to Battaglia, but the Willowbrook defense just couldn't contain the Hornets offense.
Toney, who has a first name like that of a star running back in the NFL, had a feeling this would be a special night.
"I was playing Arian Foster last night on Madden and he had a big game. He has a first name like me and I just knew I would have a big game tonight," Toney said. "Arian Foster is my video-game father."
Hinsdale South had its share of heroes on the night although only Toney had real gaudy individual stats. Deolitis did rush for 79 yards and a TD and pass for another 102 while guiding the offense to more than 500 yards on the night. Chuck Hunter also played a big role with a 1-yard touchdown on fourth down, a 46-yard pass to Deolitis on a trick play that set up a score, and a crucial 17-yard run on a pitch play to extend a scoring drive early in the contest.
Coach Mike Barry came up short of a playoff bid last year while going 5-4 in his first year with the Hornets. The previous year he coached at Evergreen Park and again went 5-4 without a postseason bid.
"We didn't want to leave it to chance," he said. "We feel like we deserve this and tonight we were able to come out and put it together."