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When West Chicago needed a critical play to earn its first football victory in two years, the Wildcats turned to an unlikely hero: a sophomore playing in just his third varsity game.
That's how much confidence Jordan Lelito has in sophomore wide receiver Mikey Bibbs. The senior quarterback fired a 13-yard touchdown pass to Bibbs that gave West Chicago the lead with 4:12 remaining in Friday's Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division game with East Aurora.
The host Wildcats then stopped the Tomcats on downs before running out the clock for a 29-24 victory. The program's first win since beating Glenbard East on Oct. 7, 2011, prompted West Chicago's student section to rush the field and join the players and coaches in a wild celebration.
Lelito had run the ball on back-to-back plays out of the read option hitting Bibbs with a strike near the back of the end zone.
"He got a 1-on-1 matchup in the end zone, and we took advantage," said Lelito, who threw 3 touchdown passes on the evening. "He's a great kid and a great athlete, and he doesn't let success go to his head. He has a high football IQ and understanding of how to run routes and make plays. He will be able to do things as a receiver the next two years that most receivers aren't able to do."
Coach Bill Bicker promoted Bibbs to the varsity for West Chicago's game with South Elgin on Oct. 11 when injuries left the team down to three healthy receivers.
Bibbs and Lelito had plenty of help from their teammates. East Aurora's final drive of the game ended when senior defensive end and captain Mike Favia batted down a fourth-down pass by Tomcats quarterback Alfonso Dieppa behind the line of scrimmage, giving West Chicago the ball. The Wildcats ran out the last 3:05 of the fourth quarter when tailback Danny Lazzerini rushed for back-to-back first downs, stopping a 19-game losing streak in the process.
"A lot of guys stepped up tonight. It was a team win," Bicker said. "I'm happy for the kids, their parents, the teachers and administration and the community. They've all been very supportive of the team all season."
"It was my first win since my sophomore year," Lelito added, joking, "I'm so happy right now, I can't even cry."