GLEN ELLYN – As Glenbard West football coach Chad Hetlet puts it, there aren’t too many secrets remaining when it comes to his Hilltoppers team and Lake Zurich.
Having already played each other three times in the postseason since 2009, the two teams will add another chapter to the budding rivalry in a Class 7A semifinal on Saturday.
Glenbard West prevailed 21-17 in the 2009 semifinals, lost 10-3 to the Bears in the second round in 2011 and bounced back to win 19-13 in the semis last fall.
“We had a last second win in 2009,” Hetlet said, “in 2011 they had four first downs and won and then last year, we were winning 19-0 and about to go up 26-0 when we fumbled. They returned it for a touchdown and the game ended up being very close.”
The two teams are nearly mirror images of each other.
“We are very similar,” Hetlet said. “We both run the ball well. And they have one of the best defenses in the state, if not the best.”
The Hilltoppers will get the advantage of playing on their home field, which added a little extra incentive heading into last Saturday’s road quarterfinal against Schaumburg, a game they won 42-21.
“It’s awesome and what we had been talking about all week, getting back to Duchon Field,” senior quarterback Drew Vogg said. “We are so happy and blessed to go back home. We haven’t had a big semifinal game at home in a while. Last year we had to play at Glenbard South [because the field wasn’t playable].
“It’s something we pride ourselves on, going 1-0 every time we play on that field. Our field is not turf and we are used to that. We think it gives us an advantage.”
Additionally, Glenbard West should be as close to full health as it has been in a while. Running back Donahvon Vaughn (thumb) and linebacker Austin Warden (arm) returned after long absences against the Saxons as did linebacker Grant Greeno, who did not play against Conant in the second round. Offensive lineman Joe Leland, who missed the Schaumburg game, is expected back this week.
“We are as healthy as we can be,” Hetlet said, “and we playing as good as any Glenbard West Hitter team has played. Offensively, defensively, special teams, we are pretty confident.”
Against Schaumburg, the Hilltoppers’ offense was nearly unstoppable as the trio of Scott Andrews, Devonte Toney and Jermon Kindle-Joyner combined for five rushing scores. Kindle-Joyner also caught a 48-yard touchdown pass on the team’s first offensive play.
“Our offensive line was fantastic,” Vogg said. “They were driving them out all day and our running backs were finding the holes. And our defense played well.”