VILLA PARK – After consecutive trips to the Class 6A quarterfinals, the question heading into the 2018 season was what Willowbrook could do for an encore.
If Friday night is any indication, special things could be in store for the Warriors.
Behind the brother duo of Sam and Scotty Tumilty, Willowbrook cruised to a 41-0 win over a Curie team that won nine games a year ago and advanced into the second round of the Class 8A playoffs.
Taking over under center this season after primarily playing in the defensive secondary last fall, Sam Tumilty accounted for four touchdowns in his varsity quarterback debut. The junior, who continued his role on defense, ran for two touchdowns and also threw two TDs to older brother Scotty.
“It was good to finally play another team,” said Sam Tumilty, who ran for 87 yards, including scores of 3 and 22 yards. “We’ve been working hard all summer. All the guys are working to get better and continue to build together and get that team chemistry we had last year which helped a lot.”
Franshun Jordan and D’onte Gholston also had rushing scores for an offensive unit that has had to replace 2,000-yard rusher Jack Jessen. Helping out was a Warriors' offensive line of Emmanuel Chavez, T.J Gregory, Ryan Ranieri, Matthew Knudtson and Tyler Walenga that dominated the line of scrimmage throughout.
“This gives us a confidence boost, especially to the younger guys,” Knudtson said. “It’s great to get those guys experience and confidence. Jack was a great player and it’s tough to replace him but we have some new players like Sam. And with the O-line, they teach the same things no matter what guys are in there. The biggest thing is tempo.”
Defensively the Warriors received interceptions from C.J. Harris and Kevin Fitzgerald while also recording four sacks. That unit got impressive contributions from a pair of sophomore linebackers, Mohammad Ayesh and Sergio Ayala.
“Most of the defensive backs and a couple of D-lineman are returning,” Scotty Tumilty said. “Coming off last year, every game we want to try to put up a goose egg and hold teams to less then 100 yards rushing and 100 yards passing and get two to three turnovers.”
Special teams also got into the act with Zoe Ericson-Staton making five extra points and Deandre Holliday booming a 57-yard punt.
The task gets even harder next week with a date against West Suburban Silver conference powerhouse Hinsdale Central.
“It’s a huge test against another quality 8A school,” Willowbrook coach Nick Hildreth said.
The Warriors will open up league play in week three against Leyden. Willowbrook is the defending West Suburban Gold conference champion.