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Football: Alex Hollensbe, Hilltoppers' offense in high gear

Glenbard West QB throws three TDs in 35-14 win over Downers North; Lyons next up

Glenbard West’s high-powered offense was close to perfect Friday, scoring on its first five possessions to roll to a 35-14 win at Downers GroveNorth.

“I think our offense is as explosive as we’ve ever been,” said Hilltoppers coach Chad Hetlet. “There’s skilled kids everywhere. There’s a lot of things we can do running and passing.

“I’m happy with our offensive balance. And a lot of credit to the offensive line (Jack Whyte, Adam Dau, Connor Skryd, Will Gapinski and Brad Breunig) for protection and being able to run the ball like we did.”

Quarterback Alex Hollensbe (9-of-13 passing for 162 yards and three touchdowns) came up big early, hitting Ryan Diver for a 41-yard TD pass on fourth and 10 to put the Hilltoppers (4-1, 2-0 in the WSC Silver) up 7-0.

The Hollensbe-to-Diver deep connection struck again for a 57-yard TD toss and a 14-0 lead with 1:36 left in the first quarter.

“We couldn’t get the run going at first,” Hollensbe said, “so we went to play-action, the line gave me time to throw and we just executed really well in that first half.”

The Trojans (2-3, 0-2) answered nicely with a seven-minute, 80-yard march to draw within 14-7. Drew Shelly (55 yards on 13 carries) twice converted fourth-down runs on the drive, which was capped by a 17-yard TD pass from Jack Carr (7-of-9 for 109 yards) to Jordan Byers.

But Glenbard West’s offense never slowed. A 38-yard Diver run on the first play of the ensuing possession set up a 1-yard TD run by Dre Thomas (125 yards on 14 carries) for a 21-7 Hilltoppers halftime lead.

A 71-yard drive to open the second half (capped by a Thomas 19-yard TD run) put Glenbard West in total command up 28-7, and Hollensbe later hit Alec Pierce with a 19-yard TD pass to up the lead to 35-7.

“We didn’t quit, but we never really stopped them,” Trojans coach John Wander said. “You can’t give up 35 points and expect to win a football game. They’re a very nice offensive team with a lot of weapons. No.12 (Pierce) is a stud at wide receiver.”

In the second of their brutal four-game stretch against the WSC Silver’s best teams, the Trojans fought to the end. A Shelly four-yard TD run cut the deficit to 35-14 (Carr completing 3-of-3 passes for 41 yards on the drive), and Ryan Schindler’s tackle for no gain on fourth down and two at the Trojans’ 8-yard-line marked the Hilltoppers’ lone non-scoring possession of the game.

“We’ll try to regroup here,” Wander said. “We played two really good teams the last two weeks, and we still have Oak Park (Friday) and LT. We have to knock off one of them – we’ll see what happens. We’re not going to hang our heads.”

Glenbard West heads into a huge Week 6 matchup with Lyons Township with rising confidence.

“I feel like we’re doing really well as a team,” Hollensbe said. “We’re really starting to come together after that Week 1 (loss to Maine South), and we’re just looking to keep growing as a team.”

“(LT) is a balanced offense – everyone talks about their quarterback (Cincinnati-bound Ben Bryant) but they run the ball well too,” Hetlet said. “And they have a monstrous offensive line. We’ll have to play a great game on defense, we can’t miss tackles, and we have to continue to get better on offense.

“Defensively I think we’re making strides, and getting healthy. We had six defensive starters out two weeks ago, but we were able to develop some depth. I like where we’re going. We’re going to play a high-powered offense next week, so we look forward to the challenge.”

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