Brandon Tillmon missed River Bluff’s season opener because of a sprained ankle. But when the quarterback played this past Friday night against Gilbert, Tillmon made it worth the wait.
The junior rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns, passed for 218 yards and two touchdowns and has been selected the Midlands Player of the Week.
“Honestly, I couldn’t have done anything I did without my offensive line. They’re a great group of guys,” Tillmon said. “And then, my wide receivers and running backs, I really thank them for catching every ball I threw them. We were successful together.”
Tillmon, who started his high school football career as a running back, still is learning the finer points of the quarterback position. But he displayed the natural physical talent and mental fortitude required of a team leader in helping the Gators (1-1) to a 31-9 win.
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“He wanted to play in that first game, but his ankle was so black and blue; he wasn’t even 50 percent. He was only at 80 percent this week, and look what he did,” Gators coach David Bennett said.
Tillmon, who spent the spring as a right-handed pitcher for the Gators baseball squad, has become a left-handed passer on the gridiron. Over the summer, his passing acuity and decision-making skills improved tremendously, and that was on display on Friday.
“There was one play where he threw a really deep ball to Diante (Petruso), and he did a really good job of putting the right amount of air under it and delivering the ball,” Bennett said.
Tillmon connected with Petruso on a 57-yard touchdown strike with two minutes remaining in the second quarter. His second passing touchdown was a 10-yard hook-up with Robbie Barrett with 3 seconds left on the first-half clock.
Finally, despite having his injured ankle rolled-up on earlier in the night, Tillmon capped the game running a bootleg for a score from 7 yards out.
“A lot of folks wondered why we put him at quarterback. But, he’s one of the best athletes in our school, and there’s only two positions on the football field that touch the ball every play,” Bennett said.
And the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Tillmon, is not built to play center.