JOLIET, Ill. – Joliet Catholic’s Breion Tucker turned to the student section as the final seconds expired in Friday’s 21-7 win over Montini and yelled for everyone to rush the field at Joliet Memorial Stadium.
Tucker’s classmates obliged. With Joliet Catholic’s cheerleaders leading the way, nearly a hundred fans charged onto the field and jumped around with the players as if Joliet Catholic had just won the state championship.
The schedule may have read Aug. 27 and been the opening night of the 2010 season, but this game had much more meaning to it. The Hilltoppers had been eying this date ever since they fell to Montini in the final seconds of the Class 5A state championship in last November.
“I don’t think this makes up for the state championship, but they were still the defending state champs,” Joliet Catholic quarterback Breshion Tucker, Breion's brother, said. “We wanted to come out and play hard. We did and beat them.”
Breshion Tucker was the story of the game. Making his debut at quarterback, Tucker showed the composure of a veteran. He completed 5-of-7 passes for 78 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
“In the state championship, we didn’t complete a pass,” Joliet Catholic coach Dan Sharp said. “Breshion threw two touchdowns tonight. He’s a good fit for us. He ran the offense well. His composure was phenomenal.”
Joliet Catholic’s offense struck on its first three possessions of the game.
Breshion Tucker put the Hilltoppers on the board first. After seven consecutive Joliet Catholic runs on the opening possession, he found Alex Kolodziez wide open for 17-yard score. On the team’s next possession, Josh Ferguson, an Illinois recruit, rushed in from 15 yards out to go ahead 14-7. Finally, Breshion Tucker hooked up with Malin Jones for a 23-yard touchdown pass.
From there, the game was a stalemate. Joliet Catholic took a 21-7 lead into halftime, and that’s how the game ended.
“It was a tale of two halves,” Sharp said. “It was the offense in the first half and the defense in the second half.”
Injuries also played a factor in the second half. Montini starting quarterback Matt Westerkamp injured his throwing shoulder in the third quarter and never returned. For Joliet Catholic, Ferguson and Jones both sat out the second half with minor injuries.
Ty Isaac picked up the slack for Joliet Catholic’s running game in the second half without Ferguson and Jones. He finished with 157 yards on 19 carries. Ferguson had 78 yards on nine carries.
Montini wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp was the bright spot for the Broncos. He had six catches for 95 yards and his team’s lone touchdown.
As a whole, Montini coach Chris Andriano saw the game as a stepping stone.
“Now we know what we have to work on,” Andriano said. “They exposed some things that we got to work on. Basically, I thought their offensive and defensive lines outplayed us.”