Subject Line (article title)
Send to (required)E-mail
Send from (required)E-mail
Willowbrook trailed Leyden for three quarters, but the Warriors' defense stepped up in one of their most important games of the season.
The visitors made up a 21-7 halftime deficit with 21 unanswered points in the second half for a 28-21 West Suburban Gold victory.
Senior defensive backs Hayden Adams and Joe Catanese both had key interceptions for Willowbrook.
Adams ran his back for 44-yards while Catanese sprinted 38 yards. The two turnovers resulted in the tying and go-ahead touchdowns.
Along with Adams' momentum-changing interception, he made 7 catches for 200 yards.
"Coach (Nick Hildreth) pretty much told us (at halftime) that the game wasn't over," Adams said after celebrating with his team. "The seniors needed to take leadership, and that's what they did. (The interception) was a great way to turn the momentum.
"We just have to keep the momentum going. We don't want anyone ruining our senior year."
Leyden (2-6, 2-3) came out strong on the offensive side of the ball. Its pass-and-run variation kept Willowbrook off kilter in the first half. The Leyden running game was led by senior tail back Aaron Whigham, who gained 136 yards with a touchdown on 21 carries.
The offense continued for the Eagles through the second half. With ease, Leyden marched into the red zone. But the costly interceptions late in the third quarter and on the ensuing Leyden drive in the fourth quarter allowed opportunities to slip through their fingers.
Arm tackles and costly penalties also hurt the Eagles' chances. Leyden had 95 penalty yards.
"We missed a lot of tackles in the second half," said Leyden coach Tom Cerasani. "We were doing pretty much whatever we wanted in the first half. We would get inside the 20 and we just couldn't punch it in. That's the story of the season — we're good enough to win, but just can't finish it.
"We really thought we could beat (Willowbrook). The seniors are disappointed. They did a tremendous job all year."
The top offensive performers for Willowbrook (6-2, 4-1) were senior running back Jeremy Barnes (18 carries, 51 yards, TD), senior quarterback Brian Johnson (15-of-18, 275 yards, 3 TDs) and senior wideout Devin Childress (4 catches, 76 yards, 2 TD), whose 37-yard TD catch sealed the victory.
Leyden had stellar performances from the defensive front.
The Eagles had 6 sacks on the game, led by senior defensive tackle Quintin Morgan (2). Senior defensive tackle Junior Watt, senior linebacker Will Napier, senior nose tackle Frank Guil and senior linebacker Joe Velez all registered one.
"We jumped up front and couldn't settle down in the early going," said Willowbrook coach Nick Hildreth. "Next week we play our rival, Addison Trail. We will enjoy the win for less than a day, come back and finish strong."