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Warriors lock up a playoff berth by pounding Mustangs 31-7 
By Chris Fox Lombardian-Villa Park Review Staff Reporter  

The Willowbrook football team clinched an IHSA playoff berth with Friday’s convincing 31-7 West Suburban Gold Conference victory at Downers Grove South. The Warriors, who scored a touchdown as the first half ended to take a 17-0 halftime lead, shut out the Mustangs until the game’s closing seconds. Downers Grove South scored its touchdown on an 18-yard pass with less than 30 seconds to play. The Warriors, who earned their fourth straight win, improved to 6-2 overall and 4-1 in conference action. Willowbrook, made its last playoff appearance in 2013, will wrap up the regular season with this Friday’s home game against conference leader Leyden. The Eagles are 6-2 overall and 5-0 in the conference. A win over Leyden would give the Warriors their first conference championship in football since 1982. A victory over the Eagles might also provide some redemption from last year’s regular-season finale. The Warriors needed to beat Leyden in last year’s Week 9 meeting to clinch a playoff berth. The Eagles spoiled Willowbrook’s playoff hopes, defeating the Warriors 16-7 in Northlake. Willowbrook finished the 2015 season with a 5-4 record. “We talked about embracing the opportunity,” said Willowbrook coach Nick Hildreth of this week’s tilt against Leyden. “We need to continue to get better to give ourselves an opportunity to win the game.” Hildreth, a 2000 Willowbrook graduate and standout receiver on the football team, noted that he was born in 1982—the last year the program captured a conference championship. The Warriors scored 17 second-quarter points to take the 17-0 halftime lead over Downers Grove South, which dropped to 2-6 overall and 2-3 in conference play. Senior Mike Dembowski gave the Warriors a 3-0 lead when he connected on a field-goal attempt of about 30 yards. Junior Jack Jessen scored Willowbrook’s first touchdown of the evening on a short run later in the quarter. The Warriors closed out the half when senior quarterback M.J. Ranieri scrambled on a broken play and fired a pass intended for senior Jonathan Kelso. As the first half expired, Kelso tipped the pass toward senior Khalif Copeland, who caught the deflection in the end zone for a 34-yard touchdown reception. Ranieri threw his second touchdown pass of the game in the middle of the third quarter, when he fired a long pass to Dembowski, who caught the ball on the run and sprinted into the end zone for a 67-yard TD reception. Jessen added his second short touchdown run of the game during the fourth period to help the Warriors increase their lead to 31-0. “We did have a couple of mental errors, but overall I thought we did a pretty decent job,” said Hildreth after the game. Hildreth also noted that earning a trip to the playoffs was one of the team’s pre-season goals. “We always talk about each team having a heartbeat,” he said. “When that season ends, it will never be the same. You’ll never get that same exact group back.” By making the playoffs, the 2016 Warriors extended their heartbeat by at least one week. Before focusing on the playoffs, however, the Warriors will concentrate on this week’s conference battle with Leyden. “We’ve still got that bad taste from last year,” said Ranieri, referring to the loss to the Eagles that kept Willowbrook out of the 2015 playoffs. Willowbrook hasn’t lost since it suffered a 30-27 defeat to Hinsdale South on Sept. 16 in Villa Park. The loss stung the Warriors, who felt like they beat themselves in their homecoming game against the Hornets. “We learn from everything, and we learned from that loss,” said Dembowski of the disappointing result against Hinsdale South.

Rams earn a victory in their final home game of the year
By Chris Fox Lombardian-Villa Park Review Staff Reporter  

Glenbard East’s football team improved its overall season record to 2-6 with Friday’s 35-14 win over West Chicago in an Upstate Eight Valley Conference game in Lombard. The Rams, who held a 21-8 halftime lead over the visiting Wildcats, moved their conference record to 2-2 with the victory. West Chicago dropped to 1-7 overall and 1-4 in the conference. The Rams will finish the 2016 season with this Friday’s conference road game against Bartlett (3-5 overall, 2-2 in the conference). The contest will take place at Bartlett’s home venue—Millennium Field at Streamwood High School. The Rams received the opening kickoff against West Chicago and delivered a 66-yard touchdown drive on their first offensive series of the night. Senior Scott Szabo completed the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run with 8:23 left in the first quarter. Senior Justin Murphy added the extra-point kick to give Glenbard East a 7-0 lead. Senior defensive end Zach Thornton recovered a West Chicago fumble later in the first period. Thornton’s recovery gave the Rams the ball at their own 37-yard line. The ensuing drive ended with sophomore quarterback Bret Bushka’s 8-yard touchdown pass to junior Keonta Nixon. Murphy’s extra-point kick extended the Rams’ lead to 14-0 with about one minute to play in the first period. The Rams’ lead grew when Bushka drove across the goal line for a 2-yard touchdown run with about four minutes left in the first half. Murphy added the conversion kick to increase Glenbard East’s advantage to 21-0. Bushka and junior Kenny Adams connected on a 33-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. Bushka scored the Rams’ final touchdown of the night on a 16-yard run in the fourth period. Bushka gained a team-leading 80 rushing yards on 16 attempts. Szabo ran for 58 yards on 13 carries. Bushka completed 13 of 18 pass attempts for 155 yards. Sophomore Jeremy Johnson grabbed six receptions for 45 yards. Adams had three receptions for 74 yards, while Nixon contributed four catches for 36 yards.      

Late touchdown lifts Montini to an exciting win over Mount Carmel
By Chris Fox Lombardian-Villa Park Review Staff Reporter  

The Montini football team scored a last-minute touchdown to pull out a 30-26 victory over Mount Carmel in Friday’s back-and-forth battle in Lombard. The Broncos, who ran their winning streak to four games and improved their season record to 5-3, locked up a playoff berth with the victory. The Montini program has qualified for the playoffs each year since the 1993 season. The Broncos led Mount Carmel 23-7 at the end of the third quarter, but the Caravan scored 19 straight points in the final period to take a 26-23 lead. Montini regained the lead on an 8-yard touchdown run by junior quarterback Matt Morrissey with about 20 seconds remaining in the game. The Broncos delivered a fourth-down conversion on the previous play when junior Nick Orlando completed a 22-yard pass to senior Mitch West. West scored Montini’s first touchdown of the game on a 10-yard run in the first period. Junior kicker Michael Cooney kicked a 40-yard field goal in the second quarter for the Broncos, who held a 9-7 halftime lead. Junior Jake Karczewski scored a pair of short touchdown runs in the third period to help Montini to its 23-7 advantage. Morrissey completed nine of 14 passing attempts for 116 yards against Mount Carmel, which dropped to 4-4. Orlando completed five of five passes for 87 yards. He also rushed for 61 yards on 13 carries. Karczewski gained 42 yards on six rushes, while West picked up 37 yards on five carries. West also contributed five receptions for 74 yards. Senior Christian Pirog made five receptions for 58 yards. Montini will finish the regular season with this Friday’s home game against St. Francis (1-7).      

Rams win Upstate Eight Valley Conference championship

By Chris Fox Lombardian-Villa Park Review Staff Reporter  

The Glenbard East girls volleyball team clinched the Upstate Eight Valley Conference title with a 25-5, 25-17 win at East Aurora on Oct. 11. The victory gave the Rams a perfect 5-0 record in conference play. In addition to beating East Aurora, Glenbard East earned conference wins over West Aurora, Bartlett, South Elgin and West Chicago. Sophomore Sarah Elliott connected for six kills in last week’s victory over East Aurora. Junior Evelyn Ream added five kills. Sophomore Emily Sarles handed out 11 assists, while junior Emily Denton made five digs. The Rams won two of five matches in their own 24-team Autumnfest Tournament, which took place Friday and Saturday. Glenbard East suffered a three-game loss to Hononegah in its first match of the event. The Rams held a 24-16 lead in the third game and appeared to be cruising to a victory, but Hononegah won 10 straight points to claim a 22-25, 25-19, 26-24 win. Glenbard East lost its second match of the tournament on Friday, falling 25-19, 25-21 to St. Charles East. The Rams won two of three matches on Saturday, beating Willowbrook (25-17, 25-22) and Barrington (25-12, 25-17) and losing a three-game decision to Loyola, which earned a 25-14, 14-25, 25-18 victory. The Rams’ overall season record stood at 17-15 at the end of the tournament. Senior Mackenzie Bell passed out 49 assists during the Rams’ five Autumnfest matches. Senior Meghan Wozniak provided 40 assists. Glenbard East will complete its regular season this week with matches at St. Charles East and West Chicago. The Rams will open the IHSA Class 4A playoffs with a regional on their home court. Glenbard East will face Oak Park/River Forest in a regional semifinal match on Oct. 25. 

Warriors run at the West Suburban Gold Conference Meet  

Willowbrook’s girls and boys cross country teams competed in Saturday’s West Suburban Gold Conference Meet at Katherine Legge Memorial Park in Hinsdale. The Warriors ran to a fourth-place finish in the girls meet, which included six full teams. The boys team posted a fifth-place finish out of seven full teams. Sophomore Victoria Palma delivered the Warriors’ best finish in the girls race by posting a ninth-place time of 19 minutes, 59.5 seconds. The trio of junior Evelyn Yao (21.23.0), freshman Ellie King (21:23.9) and junior Lydia Bauernfreund (21:34.1) placed 21st, 22nd and 23rd, respectively. Junior Angela Klingelhoffer (22:37.8) provided a 32nd-place finish. Junior Briana Jones (23:13.6) placed 36th, while senior Grace Guthrie (24:06.6) turned in a 38th-place finish. Senior Casey King produced Willowbrook’s best time in the 3-mile boys race when he crossed the finish line in a 12th-place time of 16 minutes, 41.8 seconds. Junior Michael Isaacson (16:55.0) ran to an 18th-place finish, while senior Jacob Christiansen (17:27.8) wound up in 27th place. Junior Alex Gruchalski (17:39.9) and senior Evan Carter (17:43.4) placed 32nd and 35th, respectively. Junior Ian Costello (18:18.0) rounded out the Willowbrook lineup with a 40th-place showing. Willowbrook’s boys and girls teams will return to Katherine Legge Memorial Park this Saturday to run in the IHSA Class 3A Hinsdale Central Regional. The top six teams in the boys and girls races at the regional will advance to the Marist Sectional, which will take place Oct. 29. 

Firefighters battle athletes in charity basketball game on Oct. 22  

The Illinois Fire Chiefs Association (IFCA) will face a team of sports legends in a charity basketball game that will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22, at Glenbard East High School. Doors will open at 6 p.m. The players on the team of sports legends will include Glenbard East athletic director D’Wayne Bates, who played with the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings. Before playing in the National Football League, Bates was a standout receiver for Northwestern University. The IFCA’s basketball team will include Villa Park Fire Chief Ron Rakosnik, who is the current president of the DuPage Fire Chiefs organization. Funds raised from the event will support the IFCA’s annual scholarships to members of the fire service to continue their professional development. Individual scholarships are awarded in various amounts up to $2,000. The IFCA’s 2015 scholarship program awarded 89 scholarships. The total monetary value of the scholarships was nearly $76,000. Tickets for the event are $15. Admission is free for children 6 and under. To order tickets, or for more information, call 630-592-9646.      

Junior Rams wrestling program holds signups next week  

The Junior Rams wrestling program for ages 4-14 will hold signups from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 24, and Tuesday, Oct. 25. Both signup sessions will take place in the cafeteria at Glenbard East High School. The cost is $250 per athlete and $200 for the second sibling enrolled. Each wrestler will receive a shirt, shorts, hoodie and use of a club singlet. Additionally, each wrestler will be able to compete in eight tournaments. The Junior Rams will hold their practices from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Wrestlers should bring copies of their birth certificate to sign up. For more information, contact Coach Spencer George at Gejrrams@aol.com.