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Football: Tumiltys corner the market for Warriors

Willowbrook brothers key part of opportunistic defense that forces plenty of turnovers

Sam Tumilty of Willowbrook runs with the ball Friday, Sept. 15, 2017 after making an interception during their home game against Addison Trail.
Sarah Minor - For Shaw Media
Sam Tumilty of Willowbrook runs with the ball Friday, Sept. 15, 2017 after making an interception during their home game against Addison Trail. Sarah Minor - For Shaw Media

Side by side, they feel at home.

Scotty Tumilty and his younger brother, Willowbrook sophomore Sam, never played high school football together until this year.

They’re hardly football strangers, though.

“In youth, we would be on the same team all the time,” said Scotty, a junior. “We would both play defense and I would be quarterback.”

Now they’re giving fits to opposing quarterbacks.

Opposite cornerbacks on Willowbrook’s defense, both Tumiltys have three interceptions on the season. Both brothers picked off passes against Leyden in Week 3. Sam took center stage last week, with two of Willowbrook’s five interceptions in a surprisingly one-sided 45-0 win over District 88 rival Addison Trail.

“We had a good week of practice, and we were prepared for the test,” said Sam, a 5-foot-8 strongside corner. “Our coaches wanted us to come out fast and aggressive and be physical.”

The Warriors (3-1) were off to the races after Sam stepped in front of a pass and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.

“It was goal line, we were in cover-4 and I saw the quarterback looking my way,” Sam said. “I just tried to come down and make a play. I got a block from Jacob Entwistle and I saw open field.”

Those ball skills run in the family.

The brothers’ dad, Scott, was a three-sport star at Naperville Central and later an All-American in football and track at Augustana. Their aunt Beth played soccer at Michigan State, uncle Pat played baseball at Evansville and another uncle, Jim, played football at Wheaton Warrenville South.

Scott briefly was Willowbrook’s head coach in 2011, but resigned before coaching a game. He’s been an assistant at Maine South.

“Both those brothers are competitive and have great instincts,” Willowbrook coach Nick Hildreth said. “There’s a healthy competitiveness between the two of them, but they get along great. They’re fun to coach and they ask great questions.”

Hildreth brought up Scotty as a sophomore in Week 8 last year. Scotty was a backup defensive back and played special teams for a Willowbrook team that reached the Class 7A quarterfinals.

The Warriors graduated three-fourths of their secondary, so Hildreth knew they’d be green back there. DeAndre Holliday, who also had an interception against Addison Trail, has joined Sam as a second sophomore in Willowbrook’s defensive backfield.

“I don’t know if we’re surprised with how they’re playing, but each game they get a little bit better,” Hildreth said. “You just have to play. There is no simulating game action.”

They were definitely up to the task against Addison Trail, keeping the District 88 trophy in Willowbrook for the second straight year.

“It was a good challenge,” Scotty said. “Our coaches focused all week that if we stopped their run, we would be able to stop the pass. We warmed to the task.”

Both brothers are relishing the experience of lining up side by side.

“It’s a good experience,” Sam said. “Especially because we’re brothers we talk about things with each other. We come up to one another if we make mistakes.”

The brothers will be put to the test again this week by Hinsdale South and receiver Destin Talbert. The chief playmaker in the Hornets’ spread offense holds multiple college offers.

“Hinsdale South is really athletic, and they have the wide receiver with a bunch of college offers who’s really athletic,” Hildreth said.

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