On a tour of Willowbrook's trophy case earlier this week, the Warriors' football team noticed a glaring hole.
Not to worry. The District 88 trophy -- nicknamed "The Lady" -- is returning to Villa Park to retake its place.
Willowbrook rolled to Friday's 38-7 West Suburban Gold victory at rival Addison Trail to claim the beloved trophy for the first time since 2013.
Jack Jessen rushed for 154 of his 183 yards in the first half and Chris Diaz added 82 rushing yards, with each scoring a touchdown. M.J. Ranieri had 2 touchdown passes and a rushing touchdown while Jon Kelso, who caught a touchdown pass, snared 2 interceptions in the secondary.
"This is what we were striving for," Jessen said. "We took a trip to our trophy case and it seemed empty. It just seemed like a part of the school. We fought hard this week."
Mike Dembowski's 35-yard field goal and Jessen's 2-yard scoring run gave the Warriors (2-1, 1-0) a 10-0 lead after a quarter, but Addison Trail (1-2, 0-1) got right back in the game on Bobby Daniels' 25-yard touchdown strike to Stevan Jones.
After pulling within 10-7 early in the second quarter, though, the Blazers struggled the rest of the game. In fact Willowbrook took another 10-point lead less than a minute later on Ranieri's 28-yard touchdown pass to Kelso.
"The game of football is won in the trenches, and they won the game in the trenches," said Blazers coach Paul Parpet Jr. "We couldn't stop the run on defense and we couldn't get the run game going on offense. It comes down to blocking and tackling, and we didn't do either well."
Willowbrook scored twice more before halftime on touchdown runs by Diaz and Ranieri. Ranieri hooked up with Khalif Copeland on a 16-yard third-quarter touchdown pass to make it 38-7.
"This is our turning point as a team," Kelso said. "We started jelling on the field and it felt so good. You definitely know it in the first few plays."
Nick D'Ambrose rushed for 54 yards and Daniels threw for 107 for Addison Trail, which turned the football over three times to the Warriors.
"The way we lost last year, I know that sticks with a lot of guys," said Willowbrook coach Nick Hildreth, whose team lost 28-26 last year to the Blazers. "In that sense it's nice, but realistically our goal was just to get to 2-1 and 1-0 in the conference. That was the most important thing."
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