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Caked in mud from head to toe, Glenbard West's football team felt right at home Saturday afternoon.
Playing on a torn-up, muddy field may seem like an odd home-field advantage, but the Hilltoppers used it in a 26-0 West Suburban Silver win over Downers Grove North at Duchon Field in Glen Ellyn.
"It was slippery, but we're kind of used to playing on this type of (grass) field," said Hilltoppers running back Devante Toney. "So we took it as our advantage because every other team plays on Friday nights on turf."
Glenbard West (9-0, 6-0) opened a 12-0 lead after a quarter and extended it to 19-0 by halftime. The Hilltoppers rushed for 121 of their 239 ground yards in the half while limiting Downers Grove North (5-4, 2-4) to 33 first-half yards and 1 first down.
Toney, in his second game back from a broken hand, was perfectly suited for the game conditions while plowing between the tackles for 91 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Scott Andrews added 88 yards and a touchdown. Joe Zito scored twice and rushed for 55 yards.
Even though Downers North actually did a much better defensive job against the Hilltoppers than most teams this season, the Trojans simply couldn't get anything going on offense.
Despite the loss and finishing the regular season with 5 wins, however, Downers North still earned a playoff berth as one of six Silver teams to qualify.
"Our defense played very well on such a short field we gave them," said Trojans coach John Wander. "Our punting game was not good today, our offense was pathetic. But our defense actually rose to the challenge. And in the playoffs, that's what wins."
Downers North reached Glenbard West territory only once, and it happened on the Trojans' first drive of the second half. The Hilltoppers' first scoring drive started on the Trojans' 40-yard line, and the second scoring drive began on Downers North's 26.
A fumble by the Trojans at their 26-yard line set up another short field for Glenbard West, which capitalized with a touchdown 8 plays later. Downers North gained 51 of its 84 total yards on the ground as sophomore quarterback David Edwards rushed for 25 yards and threw for 33 yards.
"I think we're playing very well," said Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet. "It's a sloppy field and we played a little sloppy offensively, but I think we're playing very good football right now."
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