Breaking It Down: In one of the most highly anticipated football games of the opening weekend, scored on three consecutive possessions bridging the first and second quarters to turn back Wheaton Warrenville South, 28-7, Saturday afternoon in Glen Ellyn.
Hayden Lekacz, in what both coaches agreed was a defining moment of the contest between the two traditional west suburban powers, intercepted WWS quarterback Ryan Graham on the Tigers’ third play from scrimmage to completely alter the field position.
Glenbard West responded with 21 unanswered points on its ensuing three drives as running backs Joe Zito and Scott Andrews, who scored two touchdowns apiece for the Hilltoppers, engineered scoring drives of 69, 77 and 83 yards. Andrews’ game-high 127 yards on 15 carries was highlighted by the junior rushing for 62 yards, capped by a 10-yard burst, on seven touches on the Hilltoppers’ second scoring drive.
Graham scored on a 10-yard keeper with 16 seconds to play before halftime to conclude a seven-minute-plus drive, but Hayden Carlson quickly restored the Hilltoppers’ three-score cushion when his 69-yard punt return enabled Zito to crash in from a yard out on the opening Glenbard West possession of the second half.
The Hilltoppers’ swarming defense did the rest. Nathan Marcus, a Vanderbilt recruit, and Ruben Dunbard combined for five of the Hilltoppers’ six sacks in shutting down the Tigers’ high-potent offense.
Patch MVP: Marcus was a force on both sides of the ball for Glenbard West. The tight end caught consecutive passes from senior quarterback Henry Haeffner on the Hilltoppers’ opening scoring drive, and the defensive end completely imploded the vaunted WWS offensive line, which was returning all six starters from its Class 7A state runner-up team last fall.
Glenbard West Stat Pack: Haeffner directed the Hilltoppers’ offense with aplomb, completing 5-for-9 passes for 85 yards. The Hilltoppers’ three primary ball-carriers—Andrews, Zito and Devante Toney—combined for 191 yards. Most important, Glenbard West did not turn the ball over and committed only one offensive penalty.
Wheaton Warrenville South Stat Pack: Graham hit six different receivers for 135 yards with his 10 completions while also contributing 54 yards—despite six sacks—on the ground to lead the Tigers. Brandon Adams and Ben Jackson were the Tigers’ leading rushers from the backfield with 45 and 28 yards, respectively.
Quotable I: “(WW South) definitely had great O-line with a lot of returners,” Marcus said. “We have so much speed and strength (on the defensive front). It would have been a shame if we didn’t pressure the quarterback. We’re like a bend-but-don’t-break defense. We have always had that in our defense.”
Quotable II: “It’s like something that happens in a church that’s not supposed to,” WWS coach Ron Muhitch said of the critical turnover that robbed the Tigers of prime field position in the first quarter. “We couldn’t drive down the field consistently (on offense). Their special teams beat us, their defense beat us. We couldn’t throw the ball downfield.”
Team Records: Glenbard West is 1-0; WW South fell to 0-1.
What’s Next: Glenbard West travels to Villa Park on Friday night to face Willowbrook in a West Suburban crossover. There is no respite for WWS, which faces Maine South on Friday night at home.
Scores of Interest: Hinsdale Central, expected to be the Hilltoppers’ primary challengers in the West Suburban Silver, shut out St. Charles North to begin its season Friday night. WWS was one of four traditional DuPage Valley powers—Naperville Central, Naperville North and Glenbard North were the others—to drop its opening nonconference game. Wheaton North, the other Class 7A colossus in the area, throttled Bartlett in its opener Friday night.