Willowbrook never gave Deerfield a chance to catch its breath.
Willowbrook rolled into the second round of the Class 6A playoffs with a convincing 44-21 defeat of visiting Deerfield on Saturday. Willowbrook (9-1) will host DeKalb at 1:30 p.m. next Saturday in the second round. That game should be much tougher for Willowbrook.
"Don't know much about DeKalb," Willowbrook coach Nick Hildreth said. "I know they're 7-2 (now 8-2 after beating Montini on Saturday). I know they're always playing deep into the playoffs."
Willowbrook made its first-round game look easy.
After receiving the opening kickoff Willowbrook handed the ball to running back Jack Jessen four times, the last a 45-yard touchdown run less than a minute into the game. Then after a Deerfield three-and-out and two Willowbrook offensive plays, quarterback John Taylor took off for a 58-yard TD run and a 14-0 Willowbrook lead less than three minutes into the game.
"It was a great start," Willowbrook senior Nick Sabatino said. "I mean we practiced hard this entire week. We knew exactly what they were going to run. And we executed."
"I feel like we're doing a good job up front," Hildreth added. "When we get off the ball and we're physical, we put ourselves in good spots. I felt like we did that early. We were able to kind of get our tempo going a little bit early."
Willowbrook added to its lead with a safety, a sack of Deerfield quarterback Jonah Silverglade in the end zone. Seven plays later Taylor passed 19 yards to Sikander Zafar for another touchdown and a 23-0 first-quarter lead.
"Our expectation is to score every possession and to get stops," Hildreth said. "We can't go (by) looking at a score at the quarter or a score at the half or anything along those lines. ... We just talked about doing what we do and the rest will take care of itself."
Willowbrook didn't score on every first-half possession. It only seemed like it.
In the second quarter Chris Diaz added a 1-yard touchdown run, Sabatino returned an interception 59 yards for a TD and Jessen added a 6-yard TD run for a 44-0 lead at halftime.
It was Sabatino's third interception of the season, the first he returned for a TD.
"I think we played well," Sabatino said. "I think we left a couple of touchdowns or defensive stops out there, but I think we played well."
Jessen finished with 111 yards on just 12 carries.
Despite a running clock the entire second half Deerfield (5-5) managed three touchdowns to narrow the final margin.