Willowbrook's summer goal becomes October reality
In the summer it was merely a word written on a whiteboard by a handful of Willowbrook football players.
Friday, "undefeated" became reality.
The Warriors wrapped up its first unbeaten regular season since 1975 and clinched its second straight outright West Suburban Gold title with Friday's 42-20 victory at Downers Grove South.
The Warriors (9-0, 6-0) zoomed to a 14-0 first-quarter lead and never looked back. Now they wait to see who they'll play in the first round of the playoffs, an announcement that'll be made by the IHSA Saturday night.
"At our summer camp at MacMurray College, some of our guys put undefeated on that whiteboard as a goal," said Willowbrook junior quarterback Sam Tumilty, who ran for 140 yards and 3 touchdowns and threw for 204 yards and touchdowns to Deandre Holliday and C.J. Harris. "We took one week at a time and just did the best we can each week. We stayed confident, but we also stayed even-keeled. Now we have to get better for that next season in the playoffs."
Downers South (4-5, 4-2) came into the game hoping to win and reach the playoffs for the first time since 2014. The Mustangs, who welcomed back quarterback George Ross from injury on Friday, pulled within 14-6 on Devean Washington's 4-yard scoring run in the second quarter, but Willowbrook answered with a pair of touchdowns.
The backbreaker came on the final play of the first half when the Warriors' Scott Tumilty fielded a punt on one sideline, switched fields and raced for a 70-yard touchdown. That boosted Willowbrook's halftime advantage to 35-6.
"They've got a good offense and two brothers who don't allow them to lose," said Mustangs coach Mark Molinari. "They were tough to stop. The Tumilty boys deserve all the accolades they get and they deserve to be 9-0. We've got some talented kids and we'll keep working hard."
Washington rushed for 156 yards, including a late 65-yarder that set up a touchdown, and Ross threw for 167 yards. Willowbrook's defense, though, kept constant pressure on the quarterback and came away with four sacks.
"This was our goal all season," said Warriors defensive lineman Nick Rushing. "We wanted to do this since Day One, and we put in the work."
All season the Warriors have excelled at hitting the reset button on each new week. That becomes more important than ever as the program tries to reach the quarterfinals for a third straight season and push beyond.
"They put that goal up there, it was their challenge to meet," said Willowbrook coach Nick Hildreth. "The great thing about it is they held each other accountable and got it done together."
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