Willowbrook's first Gold championship? It's awesome
Beyond the reflexive "It's awesome" comments, sometimes history takes a while to sink in.
You can bet it won't take another 35 years for it to sink it for Willowbrook's football team.
The Warriors claimed their first outright conference title since 1982 and their first West Suburban Gold title with Friday's 40-6 victory over Downers Grove South in Villa Park.
A statement regular season ended with a statement win for Willowbrook (8-1, 6-0), which beat a Mustangs (4-5, 4-2) team that needed a victory to earn a playoff berth and a share of the Gold title. With a fierce effort on both sides of the ball, the Warriors denied them.
"Last year we were so close," said Warriors offensive lineman Edgar Quintas. "We had confidence in ourselves and we believed in ourselves. That played a key part in everything."
After Willowbrook built a 14-0 first-quarter lead on a Jack Jessen touchdown run and a John Taylor scoring pass to Jacob Entwistle, Downers South pulled within 14-6 midway through the second quarter when Matt Greenwald threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Heavey.
From that point on the game belonged to the Warriors. Jessen ran for 146 yards on 23 carries, Chris Diaz ran for another 110 yards and Taylor threw for 223 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Defensively, Willowbrook forced four turnovers, including a pair of interceptions by Scott Tumilty and a third by Nick Sabatino, who also had 5 catches for 101 yards.
"We've been preparing for this for a long time," Sabatino said. "We knew from the beginning of the summer we could do this and we finally pulled it off. It's a great feeling."
Taylor threw a second touchdown pass to Entwistle and added scoring strikes to Martique Barksdale and Sikander Zafar. Mustangs sophomore Jayden Lambert rushed for 82 yards.
"They just ran it down our throat and we couldn't get anything going on offense," said Mustangs coach Mark Molinari. "We did take a step this year. We did some good things in conference. We had ourselves in the right spot. We just came up short."
Willowbrook now awaits a Saturday night announcement of its first-round playoff opponent, likely in Class 6A.
And, after Friday's win, likely a home game for the Warriors.
"We just wanted to be sure we were where we needed to be mentally and where our focus was against a team that's fighting for their playoff lives," said Willowbrook coach Nick Hildreth. "That was good for us to see."
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