Philip Abruzino and Zach Walsh developed a strong quarterback-receiver connection in the first half of Saturday afternoon's high school football season opener.
"It's been longer than the first half," Rams coach John Walters said, noting the juniors started playing youth football together as fourth-graders. "You know what I mean? These guys have been playing together, they know each other. It's a sixth sense. They know what they're doing, they communicate well. They did a great job of hooking up, especially in certain spots."
Abruzino and Walsh got the Rams' offense started in the second quarter with a 23-yard touchdown pass, and Willowbrook never could get the Rams back under control. Glenbard East opened its season with a 41-14 nonconference victory against its archrival in Villa Park.
"We've been playing together for a long time and just found it," Walsh said. "He made the right play and I made the catch."
The game was postponed from Friday night due to lightning.
Abruzino, who threw 3 TD passes and ran for another touchdown, took over at quarterback in the first half for Drake Pusateri, who moved to running back, a switch Walters plans to make often this season to keep opponents off balance.
"Were going to do this every game," Walters said. "It's who we are."
It worked well.
Pusateri ran for 66 yards and was one of six Rams to reach the end zone, getting his touchdown with 9:41 remaining to make the score 34-14.
"We have some versatility and some flexibility, and we're going to use it," Walters said.
The Rams led 14-7 at halftime after 6-foot-5 Willowbrook receiver Kyle Rushing caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Billy Degnan in the two-minute drill.
The teams traded TDs early in the third quarter before Glenbard East (1-0) pulled away.
"I think we're a good football team. We played a slow first half, and you saw a little bit more about what we're about in the second half."
The Rams' Karon Keyes caught a 25-yard TD pass in the second half, with Louis Mogavero adding a 3-yard TD run. Joey Moore's 3-yard TD reception from Abruzino ended the scoring.
"We just wanted to come out and play the way we knew we could and we knew we could come out on top," Walsh said.
The Rams sacked Degnan five times, holding Willowbrook to minus-12 yards rushing.
"We couldn't really get the running game going, and that was it," Willowbrook coach Nick Hildreth said. "They outphysicaled us up front."