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Pride back as Tigers take out Hilltoppers

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013 2:12 p.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:55 p.m. CST
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Wheaton Warrenville South quarterback Ryan Graham races up field as Glenbard West linebacker Jordan Hassan pursues during the Tigers' win Saturday, Aug. 31. Steve Bittinger for Shaw Media

WHEATON – When asked about his biggest career catch, Keishawn Watson mentioned a game-winning, two-point conversion reception when he was a freshman.

Watson’s Wheaton Warrenville South teammates might have a different answer.

Playing in his first varsity football game Saturday night against Glenbard West, Watson hauled in a 47-yard touchdown reception that swung the momentum in the Tigers’ favor on the first play of the fourth quarter.

The point guard on the basketball team later caught a 36-yard pass which set up Ryan Graham’s 1-yard touchdown run that gave the Tigers a 17-14 win over the defending Class 7A state champions.

“I’ll remember this game for the rest of my life,” said Watson, who admitted his first varsity touchdown was the most exciting catch of his career. “It was a great experience.”

That experience resulted in a win that, while counting the same as any other week, seemingly meant more for a storied program coming off a rare down year.

“You can’t make statements in your program until you beat the best,” coach Ron Muhitch said. “It’s great to win this one to take a little bit of that pressure off the program. We’ve talked about getting our pride back and facing the returning state champion is a way to get that pride back.”

Indeed, throughout the offseason, Muhitch had talked about bringing the pride back to a team that in 2012 missed the playoffs for the first time since 2002. And for one night, the Tigers did just that, putting an exclamation point on the accomplishment with a defensive stand on a fourth-and-1 play in their own territory with less than 30 seconds left.

“In our offseason meetings, every single time coach Muhitch would ask us what our slogan was going to be,” Graham said. “Bringing the pride back is a good slogan for us.

“This win is a huge confidence booster and it sets up a great year for us. It gives the defense a lot of confidence in us and it gives us as an offense a lot of confidence.”

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