Needing a victory, Glenbard South set the tone for Friday night's football game on the opening kickoff.
Glenbard South became eligible for the playoffs with a 56-14 victory against Ridgewood in Glen Ellyn. It also finished the Metro Suburban Conference portion of its schedule 3-1, half a game ahead of Riverside-Brookfield and Elmwood Park, both at 2-1.
The Raiders finish the regular season next week at Rock Island (7-1), ranked fifth in Class 6A, the third time it will face a ranked opponent this year.
Glenbard South's Connor Willis and Darnell Barrett forced a fumble on the opening kickoff that Justin Gjerazi recovered at the Ridgewood 5-yard line. It took the Raiders just one play to score, junior Clark Gary running right and diving into the end zone for a touchdown.
"It was huge," senior guard Joe Kornblith said. "We haven't really had a big special teams play all year. That was one of our first big ones. We came out, got that, offense next play scored. That was just kind of what we needed to get going. From there everything kind of panned out and went our way."
"Our goal is to always score first, and we did that," Raiders coach Jeremy Cordell added. "It was nice to set the tone on special teams. It was nice to set the tone from the get-go and force their hand."
Before Ridgewood (2-6, 0-3) knew what hit it, the Raiders (5-3, 3-1) led 28-0 on a 44-yard Gjerazi touchdown run, an 8-yard Zach Smith TD run and Sean Henderson's 70-yard TD reception from Alex Jeske.
"Our running backs hit the holes well, our offensive line played very well, Sean had that awesome touchdown catch," Kornblith said. "It was great. A good way to go out for senior night."
Ridgewood sandwiched its two touchdowns around another Gjerazi touchdown run, this one 36 yards, and the Raiders led 42-14 at halftime. They started the third quarter with almost as much urgency as they started the first, scoring twice in their first five plays from scrimmage. Smith's 49-yard TD run and a bruising 42-yard touchdown run by senior Matt Loos gave the Raiders a running clock the rest of the game.
Glenbard South finished with 449 yards total offense.
"Offensively, we did a really nice job sustaining blocks for the most part," Cordell said. "I thought our running backs ran real hard north and south. That was one of our challenges to them this week. We didn't feel like, even though we amassed 500 yards last week, we didn't feel like we ran north and south very well, so that was kind of a challenge for us. And they responded to that. We had some nice finishing on runs, so kudos to our backs on that."