VILLA PARK – Willowbrook has won five games in a row and has some impressive wins along the way, but arguably none of them have had the importance of tonight’s game.
The Warriors take on Downers Grove South at 7:30 p.m. Both teams are 3-0 in the West Suburban Gold and it could wind up being the conference title game.
“That gives us a lot more of a boost,” said Willowbrook senior running back Jeremy Barnes. “It’s the last quarter of our season so we gotta give it our all.”
What currently separates the two teams is Willowbrook’s performance in non-conference games. The Warriors have wins over Lyons Township and York, competitive teams in the strong West Suburban Silver, while the Mustangs are 0-3 outside the Gold.
South is coming off a 42-21 thrashing at the hands of crosstown rival Downers Grove North. Willowbrook has scored 97 points in the past two games and is averaging 44.4 points per game during its winning streak.
It’s not easy to find a Warrior that will look more than a week ahead, but this game is one the players look forward to every year.
“This might be one of those games [we look forward to], especially because Willowbrook and Downers have been known to have a little bit of a rivalry, but we’re not trying to make it too big of a game while also not overlooking anybody,” said quarterback Brian Johnson.
Johnson has been the most prolific player in the Warriors’ stat-friendly offense. He threw for six touchdowns in a 48-28 homecoming win over Proviso East last week to bring his season total to 23. He has four more scores on the ground.
The Willowbrook quarterback is nearing 2,500 passing yards through just six games. He is 134-for-198 (67.7 percent) for 2,394 yards. That’s over 500 yards more than current NFL passing leader Peyton Manning has in just one fewer game.
Barnes is also nearing a milestone – 1,000 yards rushing. He has 824 yards on 117 carries, good for just over seven yards per carry, and another 468 receiving for nine total touchdowns.
The receiving duo of Hayden Adams (46 rec., 941 yards, 9 touchdowns) and Devin Childress (42 rec., 623 yards, 8 touchdowns) also have numbers to make any fantasy football owner salivate.
If the Warriors can put up more jaw-dropping numbers and beat the Mustangs, they will clinch a playoff spot and seize control in the conference race.
“That’s just one of those teams that they’re sort of a rival for us,” Barnes said. “It’s exciting to see who’s better and who wants it more.”
Willowbrook 48, Proviso East 28
Passing: Brian Johnson 24-34, 457 yards, 6 TDs
Rushing: Jeremy Barnes 17-163, TD
Receiving: Hayden Adams 11-233, 4 TDs; Barnes 4-117; Kyle Rushing 3-58; Devin Childres 4-35, TD; Joe Catanese 2-14, TD
Week 7: Willowbrook vs. Downers Grove South
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: John A. Fischer Field, 1250 S. Ardmore Ave., Villa Park
Records: Willowbrook 5-1 (3-0 WSG), Downers Grove South 3-3 (3-0 WSG)
Outlook: The Warriors have won five in a row and can clinch a playoff spot with a win against Downers Grove South, but the real importance of the game lies in the conference race. Both teams are undefeated in the West Suburban Gold. The Mustangs gave up a season-high 42 points to Downers Grove North last week.