NORTHLAKE – After a come-from-behind win that clinched a playoff berth, Willowbrook’s football team now faces its district rival in the regular season finale.
The Warriors needed 21 unanswered points in the second half to beat Leyden to pick up win No. 6. In the end, Willowbrook won 28-21 despite trailing 21-7 at halftime and 21-14 entering the fourth quarter.
Coach Nick Hildreth lamented the Warriors’ inability to get going on offense until the fourth quarter, but a pair of interceptions by Joe Catanese and Hayden Adams helped set up the tying and go-ahead scores.
Despite clinching a playoff spot for the second year in a row, Hildreth refused to take a big picture look and keeps his team focused on the next opponent. In this case, District 88 rival Addison Trail.
“It’s an awesome atmosphere,” Hildreth said of the game against AT. “There’s a trophy on the line. A lot of these guys know each other and stuff like that. It’s a healthy rivalry.”
The Blazers are 2-6 and have been playing for pride since an 0-5 start. AT had won two in a row before getting thumped by Glenbard West 55-0 last week.
“They have some great skill players so we’re going to have to focus on that,” Hildreth said.
The winner of the game not only gets bragging rights in District 88, but claims The Lady rivalry trophy.
The Blazers’ receiving duo of Jaavion Bradley and Jake Atiyeh have put up solid numbers with the help of junior quarterback Mike Rybarczyk. The shutout against the Hilltoppers was the first time AT had scored less than 14 points in a game this season.
The Warriors’ offense is also built around talented skill players, but they have not been rampaging scoreboards in the past two games as they had earlier in the season. Willowbrook was averaging 40.5 points per game through six games, but has combined for 42 in the last two.
Hildreth cited inconsistent play up front as the reason for the drop in offense. Even on a relatively down offensive game, Brian Johnson managed to pass for over 300 yards with 200 of those going to Adams.
In the win over Leyden, the Warrior defense sparked the comeback with the key interceptions and a 12-tackle showing from sophomore linebacker Elijah Rochel.
Willowbrook 28, Leyden 21
Passing: Brian Johnson 15-for-18, 306 yards, 3 TDs
Rushing: Jeremy Barnes 18-51, TD
Receiving: Hayden Adams 7-200, TD; Devin Childress 4-76, 2 TDs; Barnes 3-24
Week 9: Addison Trail at Willowbrook
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: 1250 S. Ardmore Ave., Villa Park
Records: Addison Trail 2-6 (2-3 WSG); Willowbrook 6-2 (4-1 WSG)
Outlook: The District 88 rivalry will play out in the season finale. After clinching a playoff berth last week, the Warriors are hoping to boost their playoff seed. Addison Trail will be looking to get back at Willowbrook after losing 42-28 last year.