WHEATON – Tommy Webster can fill a stat sheet in seemingly a blink of an eye.
Beyond the plethora of goals, assists and highlight reel moments, though, the best part about him to Hinsdale Central head coach Joe Battaglia is “he’s always having fun.”
“He’s a huge piece of this team,” Battaglia said following the Red Devils’ 12-11 victory over Batavia in the regional semifinal on Monday hosted at Wheaton Academy. “And a huge part of the success we’ve had this year.”
Webster, who will play collegiately at York College of Pennsylvania, has broken every offensive record in Hinsdale history this season. Updated as of May 8, Webster had 125 career goals, 49 assists and 179 cumulative points, according to Hinsdale Central statistics. Webster has the program’s most goals, assists and points in a single season and for a career.
Webster can add three more goals scored against the Bulldogs to his record.
“What’s remarkable about that is his freshman year, it was cancelled because of COVID,” Battaglia said. “He’s missed a number of games the last two years with concussions and other injuries. He broke a lot of those records early on in the season and he’s just been shattering them ever since.”
Battaglia chose him as captain in the offseason, a role he’s “really embraced” in that leadership role.
“He’s been a model for these younger guys. We watch him, some guys cut and dodge, and I’ll feel like I’m watching Tommy, but that’s not Tommy,” Battaglia said. “He’s a wealth of knowledge for the young kids and he sits there and just cares so much.”
Hinsdale Central (10-11) led Batavia 11-7 entering the fourth quarter. Bulldogs senior Kane Hervey scored two consecutive goals, followed by teammate Griffin Robertson, to make it a 11-10 game with 5:41 left. Webster soon knifed in through two heavy pieces of contact to score his third goal, but Batavia sophomore Mitch Grometer answered with his second goal of the contest with 1:53 left to prompt a Hinsdale Central timeout at 12-11 Hinsdale.
Batavia followed with a timeout of its own with under a minute remaining, but a host of Red Devils, led by Finn Cain, forced a turnover in the final 10 seconds to stave off the Bulldogs rally.
“I think he brings a lot for the team on the field, but what he really does good is off the field,” Webster said of Cain. “He brings the boys together; always getting us fired up and checking in on each other.
The Red Devils advance to Wednesday’s regional final vs. No 1 seed Wheaton Academy hosted at Lyons Township High School at 5:30 p.m. Geneva lost to Wheaton Academy 23-0 in the first semifinal.
Cain is playing his first varsity season after a last minute decision to spurn participating in track for lacrosse. Cain’s role is pretty simple: “defensive pressure, clearing the ball and burning my guys on offense.”
“He’s a really talented football player, too,” Battaglia said. “...He’s a grinder. At our banquet on Sunday, we awarded him with the grit award and that’s the player who displays the most grit throughout the season. He’s always working hard, doing things the right way. He’s that guy. When he’s running down [the field], it’s almost like you’re watching a punt returner...it gives me flash backs of [Former Chicago Bears returner] Devin Hester.”
The Bulldogs got a valiant effort from senior Kane Hervey, who led with three goals.
“He’s just an iron man. That’s the term I would use for him,” Batavia coach Scott Williams said. “He’s almost never going to come off the field. He’ll play defense, he’ll play offense and he’ll play an extra man up, man down...he’s just a guy who the last couple years that has been that iron man to hold the team together.”
“They’ve been a [never quit] team all season,” Williams said. “We’ve got 16 seniors, so almost our entire starting staff has been together for four years...this group has worked really hard this year and if I’m going to lose a game, I’d like to lose a game like that.”