"Bottom line ... five-and-one."
That was the crystal clear postgame message from Willowbrook football coach Nick Hildreth, whose team became playoff eligible with Friday's 45-22 West Suburban Conference crossover victory over York in Villa Park.
Was it a perfect effort by the Warriors (5-1)? No, but like all good teams they found a way to overcome the miscues and pull away with 31 straight points from the second quarter to early in the fourth.
"Our games are getting better," said Warriors defensive lineman Kevon Dobbins. "We treat every team like it's our Super Bowl, and that'll make us better when we get to the playoffs. We don't underestimate anyone."
Willowbrook marched to quick touchdowns on its first two possessions, with Jack Jessen and Chris Diaz scoring on runs of 1 and 2 yards. The Warriors were rolling with a 14-0 first-quarter lead, but York (0-6) came alive with a 63-yard touchdown run by Josiah Scott.
The Dukes looked ready to stage a comeback, but Willowbrook had none of it. The Warriors responded with four touchdowns by four different players -- including a Pick 6 interception return by Jacob Entwistle -- and also got a 36-yard field goal from BettyAnn Garrett.
"We're really banged up," said York coach Matt Monken. "We had two starting linebackers out, one of our starting running backs was out. But it's not an excuse. Other guys needed to step up. We just didn't really come out ready to go and they got out pretty quick."
The Warriors rushed for 232 yards and quarterback John Taylor completed 15 of 20 passes for 220 yards including a 15-yard touchdown pass to Sikander Zafar. While Jessen carried the load with 28 carries for 179 yards and 2 scores, Diaz added 66 yards and 2 touchdowns on 11 carries.
"We knew if we did what we wanted to do, the result would go in our favor," Jessen said. "We wanted to come at them full steam and not let them rest. As soon as we get up on them, our team builds on that."
York's 7-play, 76-yard drive culminated in a 1-yard fourth-quarter touchdown dive by George Angelos. A bad snap on Willowbrook's next possession ended up in a York fumble recovery in the end zone, which narrowed the margin to 45-22.
"I thought we were a little bit inconsistent," Hildreth said. "But overall I thought we did what we needed to do."
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