Willowbrook pulls away late
By virtue of the score alone, it might have seemed as easy as was predicted.
But look deeper.
The Willowbrook football team faced a stiff challenge from Lincoln Park in the first round of the IHSA Class 7A playoffs. The Warriors led only 14-0 until the last minute of the third quarter before finally putting the game away.
Fifth-seeded Willowbrook won 35-0 against the No. 28 seed from Chicago. The Warriors will host Maine West next week in the second round.
"The other team prepares and practices and schemes, and you can't just show up," Willowbrook coach Nick Hildreth said. "I'm not questioning our guys' our effort, really. We didn't execute; it was just sloppy. They had a game plan to come in here and just eat up the clock."
It was a chippy game, with several offsetting personal foul calls and multiple ejections for each team (Willowbrook had two). Tack on a whopping 17 penalties for 139 yards lost for the Warriors, and you might agree with Hildreth's assessment of the contest.
Good thing the Warriors (10-0) have Deandre Holliday.
The junior receiver and defensive back had a whale of a night, catching 2 touchdown passes from fellow junior quarterback Sam Tumilty. He also had an interception on defense and even kicked off and punted.
"I just try to do everything that helps the team," said Holliday, who had 6 catches for 164 yards, including a 58-yard TD from Tumilty on the first play of the game. "If kicking helps the team and puts the opposing team in bad field position, I'll do anything I can do to help.
"Scoring touchdowns, catching the ball, getting yards, a simple catch, making a simple tackle … I want to win, just like everyone else."
On that first play from scrimmage, starting from the Willowbrook 42-yard line, Tumilty dropped back and found Holliday at about the Lincoln Park 30. Holliday proceeded to juke a defender and cut outside into the end zone.
And then the Lions (5-5) took over and ran, ran, ran the ball almost exclusively behind senior quarterback Awudu Habib and junior Jeremiah Rials. But to Willowbrook's credit, the defense held and finally, with 2:37 left in the half, the Warriors connected again, with Tumilty finding senior receiver C.J. Harris in the right corner of the end zone.
Then came another penalty-filled scoring lull that lasted until the 25.9 mark of the third quarter, when Habib fumbled and it was scooped up by Willowbrook. Habib was hurt on the play and had to have his neck stabilized. He was transported to Elmhurst Hospital for precautionary reasons, according to Lincoln Park coach Vince DeFrancesco.
When play resumed 20 minutes later, Tumilty found Holliday again, this time from 32 yards away on a play that essentially sealed the game.
"He's a special player," Hildreth said of Holliday. "He's so versatile, you know what I mean? He played safety for us as a sophomore, he's playing corner for us now, He plays wideout and we've moved him to different spots to get the ball in his hands."
Tumilty had a strong night as well, going 12-for-21 passing for 330 yards and 3 touchdowns, which was good because the Warriors couldn't establish their run game thanks to a big and physical Lincoln Park front four. Tumility also had a rushing score.
His brother, Scott Tumilty, added an interception return for a touchdown late that set the final score. Scott Tumilty added 3 catches for 84 yards.