The Glenbard West senior class has just a single blemish on an otherwise perfect high school football resume.
The culprit, a Lake Zurich team which shocked the undefeated Hilltoppers in last year’s second round.
Now in a twist of fate, Glenbard West will get a chance at revenge just 12 months later in a Class 7A semifinal Saturday in Glen Ellyn with a trip to Champaign on the line.
Benet and Lincoln-Way East will meet in the other semifinal.
“You don’t get an opportunity to avenge a loss like that too often,” said Glenbard West head coach Chad Hetlet. “For the seniors, their only loss of their high school careers was to Lake Zurich. They are pretty fired up about that and we are excited.”
Senior defensive back Joe Marconi said revenge is definitely on the players’ minds.
“It will be like playing a state game on Saturday, that is how big it is for us,” he said.
The Hilltoppers have been afforded that opportunity courtesy of a 3-0 victory over Wheaton North Saturday in a contest played on a rain-soaked and muddy Duchon Field. Lake Zurich advanced with a 21-6 win over two-time defending state champion Rockford Boylan, which ended the Titans’ 39-game winning streak.
“They have a great defense,” Hetlet said, “and they run a double-wing offense. They have a stud running back (Conor Schrader) and a very good quarterback (Noah Allgood).”
Defense and field goal kicking was the name of the game Saturday as both Glenbard West and Wheaton North struggled to gain footing and mount any kind of offense. That could serve as a preview of Saturday’s semifinal.
The Hilltoppers got all the points they would need early in the second quarter when Hayden Lekacz knocked in a 32-yard field goal. The Falcons had a chance at the equalizer right before intermission but a 30-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right.
In the second half, Glenbard West was held to just two first downs, but Wheaton North could never capitalize on good field position. Two of the Falcons’ late drives ended with interceptions in Hilltopper territory, with Joe Marconi and Charlie Sweeney both picking off passes.
“It was a huge team win,” said senior wide receiver Nathan Marcus. “Everyone picked each other up. We got stops and were able to move on to the next round.”
Scott Andrews led the team in rushing with 64 yards on six carries but missed most of the second half with a foot injury. Devante Toney added 56 yards on 10 attempts while Joey Zito carried the ball 16 times for 51 yards.
“One of our mottos is, the muddier it is, the more we like it,” said Glenbard West offensive lineman Jake Brodner. “We just had to dig in a little deeper.”