Milton's Westrick, Weberpal have reliable connection
MILTON—The scene hasn't changed here in a decade.
Find Tyler Westrick on just about any fall evening over those 10 years, and you'd probably discover him firing passes to Colin Weberpal and their buddies.
Almost certainly at some point during that game of catch, an observer would witness Westrick throwing deep to see if Weberpal can catch up with the ball.
“He'll throw it as far as he can just so I have to chase it down,” Weberpal laughs.
Indeed, that seems like a game that would be developed by a couple of 8-year-olds.
And now the two high school seniors are honing that competition on Friday nights.
Milton High has reached its 8-2 record heading into next week's WIAA Division 2 Level 2 playoff game at Waunakee with a run-first offense. But when the Red Hawks go to the air, it's a safe bet Westrick will give a glance toward Weberpal.
Of the quarterback's 66 completions through 10 games, 30 of them have gone to his lifelong best friend, including 9 of his 10 touchdown throws.
“It's not all about Westrick and Weberpal,” Milton coach Bill O'Leary said after Friday night's 21-18 victory over Watertown. “But when that's a tool that's in your toolbox and it's available to you, take advantage of it.”
For Westrick and Weberpal, that tool is almost like a sixth sense.
The signal-caller can count on the receiver running a crisp route each and every time, and if the ball finds his hands, Weberpal will catch it. He has turned his 30 receptions into 538 yards and nine scores.
“All summer, every practice we play catch together,” Westrick said. “I can throw it to him whenever I want, and he catches the ball all the time. It's awesome having a receiver like him.
“Ninety percent of our pass plays I just throw it to where he's supposed to be, and I know he's going to be there. It's a great feeling.”
And the pass-catcher assumes the quarterback will find a way to get him the ball.
Westrick is nearing 1,000 passing yards for the season with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. Plenty of those numbers have come thanks to his legs on plays when he is able to break the pocket and often make something out of nothing. He has also piled up nearly 600 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns.
“Every day after practice we're out here playing catch together, just us two usually,” Weberpal said. “And it's great having him back there, avoiding would-be sacks and throwing up passes where no one ever sees the guys, but he finds them.”
Westrick and Weberpal began their careers at the peewee level. At that point, the former was the quarterback and the latter a running back.
Weberpal didn't switch to receiver until he arrived at Milton High.
The shift has paid off as a senior. Last year, the offense almost came strictly on the ground, though Weberpal led the team with 13 catches.
And Milton's offense seems to be finding its stride—at least in terms of mixing it up—here at the end of the year. Fellow senior Tyler Hansing caught a critical long pass in Milton's Week 9 upset at Monona Grove that led to a share of the conference title. And senior Devon Higginbotham has added 16 catches and a touchdown this season.
“It's pretty much the whole (group),” O'Leary said. “Higgy's played with (Westrick and Weberpal) since he started coming to Milton High School four years ago. Every day they stay after and throw—Hansing, Higgy, Westrick and Weberpal.
“Those kids have really put in the work.”
This time of year, that's all Weberpal and Westrick talk about.
“Just football and making big plays,” Weberpal said.
In a couple weeks, the duo will turn its attention to the basketball floor. But first, they would love for their senior football season to last a few more weeks.
And a few more games of catch.