Class 7A semifinal
No. 6 Lake Zurich Bears (10-2) at No. 1 Glenbard West Hilltoppers (12-0)
When: 1 p.m., Saturday
Where: Glenbard South, 23W200 Butterfield Road, Glen Ellyn
Site change: The game is still considered a home game for Glenbard West. The grass football field at Glenbard West was deemed unplayable Wednesday in the wake of last weekend's quarterfinal game on the field. A torrential downpour just before kickoff of that quarterfinal turned the field into a muddy mess and it could not be restored in time for today's game.
Last meeting: In the 2011 Class 7A second round, Lake Zurich defeated Glenbard West, 10-3. Lake Zurich and Glenbard West are playing their third playoff game against each other since 2009. Glenbard West defeated Lake Zurich 21-17 in the 2009 semifinals. The series is now tied 1-1.
Lake Zurich's road to the semifinals: Defeated Crystal Lake South in the first round, 49-0; defeated Rockton Hononegah in the second round, 17-6; defeated Rockford Boylan in the quarterfinals, 21-6.
Glenbard West's road to the semifinals: Defeated Elk Grove in the first round, 49-21; defeated Libertyville in the second round, 38-10; defeated Wheaton North, 3-0.
Lake Zurich playoff history: The Bears are making their 11th straight playoff appearance. Their best finish came in 2007 when they won the Class 7A state title by defeating Wheaton Warrenville South, 7-3. Last year, the Bears lost in the Class 7A semifinals to Rockford Boylan, 16-10.
Bears fun fact: Since 2006, Lake Zurich has been Lake County's most successful playoff team, by far. The Bears have won a state championship (2007), played in three state championship games (2006, 2007, 2010) and have advanced to at least the semifinals in six of the last seven years. With 28 playoff games since 2006, Lake Zurich has had more postseason experience than any other team in Lake County. The next closest teams are Carmel with 15 games and Stevenson with 14. Only two teams in Lake County besides Lake Zurich have advanced to the semifinals since 2006: Carmel in 2007 and Antioch in 2008. Lake Zurich defeated Carmel in the 2007 semifinals (17-7) on its way to the 2007 Class 7A state title.
Glenbard West playoff history: The Hilltoppers are making their ninth playoff appearance since 2001 and their sixth straight. Glenbard West won the Class 5A state championship in 1983 by defeating Limestone, 21-7. The Hilltoppers have also finished second in the state twice. In 1976, they lost the Class 5A title game to St. Laurence, 22-21 in overtime. In 2009, they lost the Class 7A title game to Wheaton Warrenville South, 31-24 in double overtime.
Hilltoppers fun fact: Glenbard West head coach Chad Hetlet has strong ties to Lake County. He grew up in Zion and played four years of football at Zion-Benton. His first job out of college was as a teacher and football coach at Libertyville High School, where he spent one year.
Conference successes: Lake Zurich won the North Suburban Conference Lake Division with a 5-1 division record. Stevenson also finished at 5-1, but Lake Zurich defeated Stevenson in Week 8, 21-14 to earn the division title … Glenbard West won the West Suburban Silver Conference with a 6-0 record.
By the numbers: Lake Zurich averages 24.6 points per game and is allowing 5.2 points per game, which includes 6 shutouts…Glenbard West averages 37 points per game and is allowing 8 points per game, which includes 4 shutouts.
Coaches: Dave Proffitt is in his first year as head coach at Lake Zurich. He replaced a state championship coach in Bryan Stortz, who moved on during the off-season to another coaching job. Proffitt was a long-time assistant coach in the program before being elevated to head coach. He also was a head coach at Marian Central Catholic in the 1990s…Chad Hetlet has been the head coach at Glenbard West since 2007 and has guided the Hilltoppers to the playoffs in each of his six seasons. Hetlet is averaging 10 wins per season.
Skinny: Good thing these two teams are forced to wear different uniforms. Otherwise, it might be tough to tell them apart. "The parallels between our team and their team are shocking," Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet said. "You watch film and you watch one of their kids do something and you say, 'Wow, that looks like it could be our kid out there.' We are very, very similar offensively and defensively. We both love to run the ball and are both double-wing offenses, and defensively, we're both 3-5 defenses where kids run to the ball well, make sure tackles and don't give up big plays very often. There probably isn't anything that we'll do that they haven't seen already and the same is true the other way around. At this point, it's really going to come down to individual matchups."…Lake Zurich will lean heavily on running backs Connor Schrader and Sean Lynch, who each had 100-plus yard rushing games last week against Rockford Boylan. Quarterback Noah Allgood won't pass a ton, but he can keep defenses honest with his strong arm. He passed for 2 touchdowns last week. "We had too many penalties (11) last week, including some false starts, but besides that, I thought our offense played very well. We had some nice balance," Lake Zurich coach Dave Proffitt said. "We've been practicing very well lately and that's how we've been playing. I'm not surprised that we're doing what we do very well. But as a staff, we're always concerned that we won't have an answer for what an opponent brings."…Glenbard West brings a punishing rushing attack that has rolled up more than 2,700 yards this season behind Scott Andrews, Joe Zito and Devante Toney. On top of that, another top-tier weapon for the Hilltoppers is 6-foot-5 receiver Nathan Marcus, who has committed to Vanderbilt and can impact the game from multiple positions. In the second round against Libertyville, Marcus caught 7 passes for 102 yards and even blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown. "We don't really have one guy we focus on, we've got a cast of characters and it seems like every week it's a different guy stepping up," Hetlet said. Andrews, who is the Hilltoppers' leading rusher with more than 1,400 yards, is coming off a slight ankle sprain but should be good to go by game time…As good as both offenses can be, the story of the game most likely will be the defenses. Both Lake Zurich and Glenbard West are beyond stingy, allowing just 5 and 8 points per game, respectively. Lake Zurich linebacker Robert Rossdeutcher sets the tone and is backed up by speedy cornerbacks like Grant Soucy and Lynch, who had an interception last week. Meanwhile, Glenbard West lineman Ruben Dunbar is a load up front at 6-foot-3, 255 pounds. Linebackers Joe Marconi and Tyler Dayton are also tough. "They fly around on defense, just like us," Proffitt said…Last year's game between these two teams, a 10-3 Lake Zurich win in the second round, was all about field position. The Hilltoppers ran into some problems with their kicking game and Lake Zurich, which managed only four first downs in the game, took advantage of some short fields. "There were a lot of hidden yards in the kicking game that we gave up," Hetlet said. "It was a tight game last year and that made the difference. It could be the same way this year. Special teams are going to have to be ready because it really could come down to that."…This is the third playoff game between these two teams in the last four years, and last year's result didn't sit well with Glenbard West for many reasons. Lake Zurich handed Glenbard West's senior class its only loss in three-plus years. That class of Hilltoppers went 40-1. "Every year is different, with different players and different matchups," Hetlet said. "But I think our kids are pretty excited to get the chance to play Lake Zurich again."
Playoff advancement: Winner moves ahead to the Class 7A state championship game (4 p.m.) Saturday at the University of Illinois' Memorial Stadium in Champaign and plays the winner of No. 1 Lincoln-Way East (12-0) at No. 2 Benet (11-1).