Tyler Hilinski put on his Superman cape to lead Washington State past Boise State on national television last Saturday, giving the Cougars an all-time comeback tale that will be repeated for decades. But it certainly wasn’t the first time one of the Hilinski brothers did something extraordinary on a football field. Tyler, older brother Kelly and younger brother Ryan have been behind center for a few of the more memorable games the Los Angeles prep football scene has produced the last 10 years. With help from the Hilinski family, we whittle that list down to the top five.
No. 1: Kelly Hilinski & Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High vs. Hamilton, 2012 – Kelly was the starter and Tyler was his backup when Sherman Oaks Notre Dame traveled to Ireland – yes, Ireland – as part of the Global Ireland Football Tournament, where they’d play Arizona juggernaut Hamilton High (Chandler). “They were Arizona state champs for three or four years in a row … they were supposed to beat us by 60 points,” Kelly recalled. “We went in there and just smacked them.” Notre Dame led by as many as 20 and won 27-15.
No. 2: Tyler Hilinski & Upland High vs. Corona Santiago, 2013 – Thanks to some late heroics from the middle Hilinski, Upland managed to hold off future Alabama/Arizona State QB Blake Barnett and Corona Santiago. Tyler threw the touchdown pass that made it 42-41, then completed a two-point conversion to seal the 43-42 win. “They score and the entire benches and the stands emptied,” father Mark Hilinski said. “Not nearly as big as Martin Stadium, but for a high school game it was a lot of fun.”
No. 3: Ryan Hilinski & Orange Lutheran vs. JSerra Catholic, 2016 – Between the 2015 and ’16 academic years, Ryan elected to transfer from JSerra to Orange Lutheran. As fate had it, JSerra was the first team on Orange Lutheran’s Trinity League schedule. Ryan threw for 267 yards and rushed for two touchdowns in the game, pulling out a QB sneak to beat his former school 30-29 in overtime. “That will be one of the most memorable things of my high school career, for sure,” Ryan said.
No. 4: Kelly Hilinski & Sherman Oaks Notre Dame vs. Crespi, 2012 – Despite Tyler’s best efforts, Kelly is still the family leader in most overtimes played. It took him four extra periods to shake off crosstown rival Encino Crespi in an epic 40-34 victory and Kelly threw for 285 yards and two touchdowns, later telling the LA Times, “I feel bad if anyone didn’t come to watch this game.” Khalfani Muhammad, a 2017 seventh-round NFL Draft pick by the Tennessee Titans, ran in the game’s winning touchdown.
No. 5: Ryan Hilinski & Orange Lutheran High vs. Vista Murrieta, 2017 – Just 24 hours before Tyler’s triple-overtime win in Pullman, Ryan was breaking records in southern California. In a 40-20 blowout of Vista Murrieta, he set a school mark with 538 yards – which also shattered his personal record of 295 – and threw for four touchdowns. “It was a good weekend for the Hilinski boys,” Ryan said.