Tigers take home gold at Homecoming

Jarrale Daniels, Staff Writer

The day was September 6, 2014. The Tigers came out sporting their new yellow jerseys. As the drums played loud, the boys walked under the bleachers towards the turf where they would do battle. Head coach, Jason Aubry led the yellow warriors as they ran through the tunnel made by the West band.

As they sprinted towards the end zone, the crowd cheered and the student section blasted. A new addition to pre-game was added by Coach Aubry. A wooden board with the letters “T.O.I.” inscribed on it was held on the sideline. Each player slapped it as they ran by.

“TOI is our Joliet West Football mantra,” said Aubry. “TOI stands for Team Over Individual. We want our guys to remember who they are playing for and why they are playing. We are playing for our brother beside us not for individual gain.”

As Chicago King came onto the field, the stage was set for what would be as intense of a homecoming game most have seen. The Tigers kicked off the ball to the Chicago King Titans. On their opening drive the Titans scored in five plays then completed the two point conversion which gave them an 8-0 lead against the Tigers.

On West’s opening drive they looked strong but could not turn their work into points. Then the Tiger defense came out and sent King’s offense off after three plays giving the offense another chance. On the second play of that drive the snap went over junior quarterback Alex Tibble’s head. Tibble however recovered it and ran it for a Tiger first down keeping the chance alive. To end the drive, Tibble connected with senior wide receiver Kyle Henderson for the first touchdown of the game on a 36 yard pass.

“Normally I would think to just fall on it and not give the other team the ball,” said Tibble on the run after the missed snap. “But as I was running back it took the perfect hop, so I scooped it up and just ran.” On the touchdown to Henderson he said “It felt good coming out of my hand and all I could do was just watch and celebrate when he ran it in.”

As King got the ball again, they drove it down the field for another touchdown. On the two-point conversion, Chicago King ran it up the middle and just made it into the end zone. The next Tiger possession resulted in a drive down the field. Tibble ran 31 yards to give the Tigers a touchdown. After a missed extra point the Tigers were down 16-13.

Midway through King’s next drive the Tiger’s defense put major pressure on the quarterback. He ended up throwing a game changing interception to senior safety Collin Talkie near the 40 yard line.

King’s defense stopped the Tigers from driving it down the field, forcing them to punt. King was kept inside their five yard line and after feeling the heat from the defense the Titans quarterback put up another interception. This was once again in the hands of Collin Talkie, making the crowd erupt. “I was really hype after my first and second interception,” said Talkie.

The Tigers came short on this drive again. The West Defense came out strong in order to stop King from scoring. After the punt, West’s offense came back on the field to put some points on the board. Tibble connected with senior receiver Evan French for an 84 yard touchdown pass as the crowd went wild. French had some words about the huge touchdown. “Well running for the touchdown was honestly surreal. I felt unbelievably relaxed, Tibble and I were just playing catch. Just the fact that me and him connected to score an 84 yard touchdown to bring us back into the game was amazing.” After the touchdown, junior tight end John Choate caught a pass for the successful two point conversion.

The defense came out on the field and junior linebacker Meekah Ben Isreal sacked the quarterback to end the half. To start the third quarter Chicago King received the ball. The Tiger defense, or Darkside as they call themselves, came out and stuffed the offense on a 3rd and 2 run bringing back on Tibble and the offense.

The Tigers drove it down the field hard and ended the series having junior running back, Jacob Coyl run in the ball at the one yard line. Kyle Kopchak’s extra point gave the Tigers a 28-16 lead. King’s offense came back on the field. They ran the ball down the field most of the drive. Then their quarterback completed an eleven yard pass for the touchdown. Senior linebacker NaVontae Battle and junior defensive end Juan Hernandez hit the quarterback causing an incomplete pass on the two point attempt.

The offense came back on the field but couldn’t put any on the board. King came out and put up a touchdown but failed to convert on the two point conversion which tied the game and put everyone on the edge of their seats.

King then kicked off the ball to an awaiting junior receiver Justin LaBuhn. LaBuhn ran the ball from about the 17 all the way down the field for a Tiger touchdown. “I felt nervous because it was my first game back to return,” said a reflecting LaBuhn. “When I returned the kick for a td I dropped it, recovered, read the defense and took it all the way.”

Senior kicker Kyle Kopchak came out with the PAT team and succeeded on the extra point. King came onto the field and scored another touchdown as the ball went over the head of senior corner John Anderson. The Titans however, could not complete the two point conversion.

Senior defensive tackle, Houston Thomas, had a comment on his last homecoming game. “I felt that we could’ve played better even though we got the win,” said Thomas. Collin Talkie also said “I was happy we won but upset at how we played as a team.” Senior Defensive end Nolan Marrow believed “It was disappointing, after beating them last year and our defense shutting them out. We came out too soft and slow and they brought it to us hard.” Morrow however knew the Tigers would pull through but “it still was a scare.”

French also believed their hard work paid off and said the win “shows what working as a team can actually do.” Also he said, “Big shout out to the 12th man we had at the game. It was crazy to see that student section fired up all game. I think it was a big factor for us winning that game.”

The Tigers held on to the lead after a big stop by the defense to end Chicago King’s chances of winning. To the seniors this will be their last homecoming game and their first homecoming win. Joliet West is now undefeated with a record of 2 wins and 0 losses, but the more important thing is that this game will forever be remembered by the class of 2015 as their last homecoming game.