CRETE | A position change wasn’t exactly what Kyle Tilley had in mind for his senior season.
But he was interested in contributing, and he has.
The Crete-Monee running back-turned-wide receiver has established himself as a much-needed part of the Warriors’ offense this season. And Tilley owes it all to an open mind.
“I had never played wide receiver a day in my life,” the 17-year-old said. “So at the beginning of the season, it was a little intimidating, especially playing with guys like LaQuon (Treadwell) and Lance (Lenoir).
“But I want this team to succeed, so I was willing to line up on the field wherever the coaches needed me for us to be successful.”
Standing 5-feet-10 and weighing 184 pounds, Tilley isn’t always the biggest receiver on the field, but he’s made enough plays to garner his team’s confidence.
“Kyle is the kind of guy that can make a short catch and turn it into a long touchdown,” Crete-Monee quarterback Marcus Terrell said. “I know that any time I throw the ball his way, he’s going to catch it and make a play.”
Crete-Monee, which holds a 9-0 record and ranks No. 1 in The Associated Press’ Class 6A poll, has benefited from Tilley’s ability to adjust to his new position quickly.
His 208 yards receiving and two touchdowns may not be overwhelming numbers, but his ability to make impact catches is what Terrell says is the receiver’s most impressive skill.
“(Kyle) knows where to be when we need a first down, or when we’re in the red zone,” Terrell said. “He has great awareness and can find holes in the defense to make plays.”
And when Tilley isn’t catching the football, Crete-Monee coach Jerry Verde still lets him run it.
His four rushing touchdowns are good for second on the team, and Verde appreciates having the option of throwing opposing defenses for a loop.
“When you can take your slot receiver and throw him in the backfield, it makes defenses uncomfortable,” Verde said. “Kyle has become a threat that teams have to plan for.
“He’s that player that could probably line up anywhere on the field and find success.”
And now, that’s what matters most to Tilley.
“When the coaches move me around, it makes me feel like a bigger part of this offense … of this team,” Tilley said. “I’ve always believed that as long as you give your best effort, you deserve to be on the field.
“And it doesn’t matter where I’m playing; I’m always going to give everything I have for the guys around me.”