LOMBARD – Glenbard East football hasn’t had a lot to cheer about in recent years, but after a season-opening win over rival Willowbrook there is optimism around the program.
Junior quarterback Drake Pusateri had an impressive varsity debut to lead the Rams to a 28-21 win over the visiting Warriors Saturday night.
The game got rescheduled twice due to weather before finally settling on a 7 p.m. start, which meant the game was played under the lights and provided a proper stage for Pusateri.
“I went home [Friday] night in pure anger because we could not play under the lights,” Pusateri said. “As soon as they rescheduled this game to Saturday I knew that I had to do everything I could because I’m never going to get the chance to beat Willowbrook on my field again under the lights.”
Pusateri said his nerves settled down after the opening drive and it showed. He totaled 332 yards of offense, doubling as both the Rams’ top passer and rusher on the day, and accounted for three touchdowns.
With the score tied at 14-14 at halftime, Pusateri came out and passed for 146 yards and ran for 70 yards more in the second half alone.
“Drake has grown up in this system and program,” said Glenbard East coach John Walters. “It’s nothing different, just that it’s [varsity] now. He played a heck of a game and did a great job managing the game.”
Key returners for Willowbrook, quarterback Brian Johnson and wide receiver Devin Childress, connected for two first-half touchdowns to give Willowbrook a 14-7 lead.
The Rams rattled off the next three touchdowns, two runs by Pusateri and a 20-yard pass from Pusateri to Alex Ciszewski. Johnson ran in a 7-yard score to bring the Warriors within 28-21, but two fourth-quarter turnovers in East territory did in Willowbrook.
“Defensively a bunch of third downs, missed assignments and lack of execution and that’s what happens,” said Willowbrook coach Nick Hildreth. “Offensively we don’t finish drives early and we turn the ball over late. You’re not going to beat anybody doing that.”
The Rams were able to celebrate on the big ‘G’ logo at midfield after the game.
“It’s a thrill any time you win a high school football game,” Walters said. “When you’ve worked as hard as our guys have it’s awesome, but we’re not looking into the past. We’re looking more towards the future and that’s what we have going on at Glenbard East. We played a good game tonight, but we have a ways to go to get better.”
Glenbard East 28, Willowbrook 21
Passing leaders: GBE — Drake Pusateri 12-for-20, 224 yards, TD. WBK — Brian Johnson 15-for-28, 165 yards, 2 TD
Rushing leaders: GBE — Pustaeri 15 car., 108 yards, 2 TD. WBK — Jeremy Barnes 15 car., 105 yards; Johnson 9 carries, 69 yards, TD
Receiving leaders: WBK — Devin Childress, 8 rec., 105 yards, 2 TD. GBE — Joey Moore, 4 rec., 104 yards; Alex Ciszewski 3 rec., 66 yards, TD