Alex Tibble may look small, but the Joliet West quarterback played very big.
Tibble threw two touchdown passes and was 18-of-26 for 266 yards as he led the Tigers to their biggest victory in years with a 21-10 win over Sandburg in a Southwest Suburban Blue matchup, before a large homecoming crowd Friday night in Orland Park.
There’s still over half a season to go, but Joliet West (3-1, 1-1) has never made the playoffs in its history and this victory is a big step toward that. The Eagles (2-2, 1-1) will have to regroup in order to make their seventh straight playoff berth and 27th in the past 31 seasons.
“They list me at 5-foot-7 in the program, but in reality I’m 5-foot-6,” Tibble said. “My focus was on beating Sandburg. We just wanted to come in here and get a win, it made it a little sweater that it was their homecoming.”
Tibble, a junior, was fearless all day. He rolled out on a regular basis and bounced back after numerous sacks. He added 13 carries for four yards, but hit many huge passes.
After the Eagles had cut the lead to 7-3 on a Jonathan Milazzo 25-yard field goal with 3:37 left in the first half, Tibble stuck back. He connected with Evan Frenchon ensuring play from scrimmage for an 80-yard touchdown to give the Tigers a 14-3 lead which they took into halftime.
“The first pass [French] ever caught was an 84-yard one for a touchdown this season,” Tibble said. “So to hit him on that 80-yard pass was awesome.”
Joliet West had opened the scoring when Tibble found John Choateon a 6-yard scoring strike with 2:22 left in the first quarter.
Sandburg narrowed the lead to 14-10 when Jim Robley rambled in with a 2-yard TD run to cap a 96-yard, 12-play drive midway through the third quarter. But the Tigers weren’t going to be denied, as they responded with a 14-play, 80-yard drive. Brenton Thompson rounded that out with a 3-yard TD run with 11:56 to play in the game.
“I just followed my line there,” Thompson said. “This year we’ve come out with a chip on our shoulder. We’ve started something this year and we want to work on finishing. We want to leave a legacy.”
French had four receptions for 127 yards and Kyle Henderson added seven catches for 100 yards for the Tigers. Sandburg quarterback Avery Verble was 13-of-26 for 186 yards, but was intercepted three times. Adam Valiga had seven receptions for 95 yards for the Eagles.
“They hit big passes and their quarterback was quick,” Sandburg coach Dave Wierzal said. “They made some big plays that hurt us, but we didn’t play