Scouting the Willowbrook Warriors
The buzz surrounding Willowbrook's football program is deafening.
Three straight quarterfinal berths with 29 wins will do that.
So will the return of a quarterback like Sam Tumilty, a third-year varsity starter who last season threw for 2,530 yards, ran for 1,270 and made 102 tackles in the secondary.
Tumilty and the Warriors have talent to burn to defend their West Suburban Gold title and get past that quarterfinal roadblock.
"We talked in general about the next step forward," coach Nick Hildreth said. "The seniors have known conference titles and the quarterfinals. They drive those expectations."
Returning receivers Deandre Holliday and Everett Stubblefield combined for 62 catches and over 1,000 yards. Tumlity had to carry the running game last season, but the arrival of Ta'Vion Geanes, a Montini transfer, eases the load.
Not that Tumilty won't take advantage of his athleticism, but extra backfield options only fuel the offense.
"We never really got the run game going last year," Hildreth said. "That's really been our focus in the off-season."
Holliday and Tumilty are third-year secondary starters while linebacker Sergio Ayala and safety Mohammad Ayesh, who had 118 tackles, started last year as sophomores. Linebacker Travis Moore also returns.
Similar to the offense, the defensive line needs rebuilding. Elijah Brockle has experience, but you'll likely see many of the same faces on both lines, faces like Ryan Ranieri's.
The program depth of 128 total players will allow for the promotion of four sophomores to varsity.
One more sign of that buzz.
"We love flying under the radar," Hildreth said. "But it's a testament to the kids that they're getting noticed."
One to watch: After Providence and Oak Park, the Warriors open Gold play Week 3 against Downers South.
Coach: Nick Hildreth (ninth year, 49-34).
2018 record: 11-1, 6-0, first in West Suburban Gold.
Top players: QB-DB Sam Tumilty, sr.; WR-DB Deandre Holliday, sr.; WR Everett Stubblefield, sr.; LB-OL Sergio Ayala, jr.; DB Mohammad Ayesh, jr.; LB Travis Moore, sr.; RB Ta'Vion Geanes, sr.; DL Elijah Brockle, jr.; OL-DL Ryan Ranieri, sr.; OL T.J. Gregory, sr.
-- Kevin Schmit
Fri, Aug 30, Providence Catholic at Willowbrook, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Sep 6, Willowbrook at Oak Park-River Forest, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Sep 13, Downers Grove South at Willowbrook, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Sep 20, Willowbrook at Leyden, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Sep 27, Addison Trail at Willowbrook, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Oct 4, Willowbrook at Hinsdale South, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Oct 11, York at Willowbrook, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Oct 18, Willowbrook at Morton, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Oct 25, Proviso East at Willowbrook, 7:30 p.m.