Brown sets Willowbrook rushing record

Updated 4/1/2021 9:53 PM

A season ago, Enrique Cruz was helping to protect Sam Tumilty and an explosive aerial offense.

This spring, the Syracuse offensive line-recruit finds himself blocking for a school-record setting running back.


With the senior and his fellow linemates dominating the line of scrimmage, Josh Brown set a new single-game rushing mark at Willowbrook with 351 yards in a 42-7 win over Hinsdale South Thursday in Villa Park.

"That just makes me so happy," said Cruz when told of his teammate's record-setting effort. "It's really been amazing so far. In the offseason I wanted to work on my run blocking and as a team, we talked about running the ball more and we've been doing that. Our running backs have been playing amazingly and our line has been pretty good too.

"I couldn't be happier. I'm not running the ball or scoring touchdowns but if they are having success, I'm happy."

Having success might be an understatement in regards to Brown, who had totaled 490 yards and eight touchdowns in the first two weeks. He added four more scores to his total, with TDs of one and six yards to give the undefeated Warriors a 14-0 lead at half.

He added scoring runs of 54 and 47 yards after intermission while also seeing time on defense.

"I just love football so much," said Brown, whose dad played college football. "My teammates push me, I couldn't do it without them. I couldn't do it without my family and my coaches, they keep pushing me.

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"Our O-line has been amazing and I also couldn't do it without them. They give me the will to fight and I just continue to fight for those yards. I'm going to keep on working. I love to work and I love competing against anybody in the state."

Fellow running back Jaylon White added 13 carries for 122 yards and two touchdowns.

In improving to 3-0 on the season, Willowbrook won its 21st consecutive West Suburban Gold Conference game. The Warriors have now won 35 of their past 40 contests during a stretch that has included a state semifinals appearance and a trio of quarterfinal berths.

"I've been fortunate with a bunch of kids with no egos, who play hard and are super coachable," Willowbrook coach Nick Hildreth said. "And then you sprinkle in the talent that's there and also our coaching staff. Everyone has bought in and it's really fun to be a part of."

Hinsdale South, which fell to 1-2, scored on a 1-yard run by Khamani Williams at the end of the third quarter. The Hornets defense did force three turnovers with Logan Bryant, Jaylin Steele and Justin Hill all recovering fumbles.

Anthony Biancalana had an interception for Willowbrook.

"I don't want to make excuses," Hinsdale South coach Mike Barry said. "But we were down a couple of key starters coming into the week and then had a few more go out during the game. And Willowbrook is a very physical team, hats off to them. They are a good team. We are happy we can play and hoping to get better every week and to get healthy for sure."

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