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CHAMPAIGN -- You win some, you lose some.
Regardless, Glenbard High School District 87 couldn't have been prouder on Saturday.
Glenbard West and Glenbard North represented the district well in the Class 7A and Class 8A championship football games at Memorial Stadium. The support from North, South, East and West shined bright as Glenbard West claimed the 7A title and the Panthers settled for a runner-up finish with a loss in the 8A final.
"I know (Glenbard North running back) Justin Jackson and a couple of other guys on their team," said Glenbard West safety Hayden Carlson. "I saw him at the Glenbard basketball tournament earlier this week and wished him good luck. District 87, you've got to represent."
Represent they did, epitomized by the throngs of black-clad fans on the home side of the field for both games. The "Black Out" was somewhat coordinated on social media, and many Glenbard West fans took their support a step further by sticking around to cheer for Glenbard North in the 8A game.
In a busy week filled with practice, travel preparation and turkey, the two coaches didn't have much time to exchange well wishes. Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet and Glenbard North coach Ryan Wilkens did find time to exchange good-luck emails, though.
The two coaches have been on friendly terms for quite some time, a feeling that runs through all four Glenbard football programs. Glenbard South coach Jeremy Cordell, Hetlet's former defensive coordinator, and Glenbard East coach John Walters each sent good-luck emails to their district coaching colleagues.
"We're similar programs and there's a lot of friends between the teams," Hetlet said. "Ryan and I are good friends. There's a lot of respect there."
It's an interesting camaraderie between the four Glenbard schools. They exist in three different conferences, the DuPage Valley, the West Suburban Silver and the Metro Suburban. In football they're spread between Class 6A, 7A and 8A.
Would Glenbard North and West be so friendly if they were in the same conference or football class? Maybe not as friendly, but guaranteed the respect would remain deep.
"We wanted both Glenbards to win," said Glenbard North senior Ryan Storto. "It's really great for both of us to be down here. They're such a great program, and we wanted to win a championship, too."
Four times the DuPage Valley Conference has sent two teams to state finals, with Glenbard North being part of the feat in 1991 and 2007. In 1983 Glenbard West and Addison Trail both made it from the West Suburban Conference.
Never before, however, have two Glenbard schools played in state championship football games the same year. Glenbard North and Glenbard West made history Saturday, and they knew it.
"A Glenbard win is a Glenbard win, and we want that all the time," said Glenbard West senior Henry Haeffner. "We're big fans of theirs, I'm sure they're big fans of ours. We're in the same district, so we all want the best for each other."
Obviously, focusing on its own challenge, Glenbard North didn't get to see Glenbard West beat Lincoln-Way East 10-8. Storto didn't even know the Hilltoppers had won until well after the Panthers' 28-14 loss to Mt. Carmel.
Glenbard West, relishing its historic achievement, made its loyalties well known as they prepared to hit the road back to Glen Ellyn. Rooting for the Panthers was as clear as the "G" on the side of the Glenbard football helmets.
District 87 stood tall on Saturday as Glenbard West and North set a standard for excellence that'll be tough to match. It's a day that won't soon be forgotten.
"Congratulations to them, they won a great championship," said Glenbard North junior Justin Jackson. "Good job for them, but unfortunately we came up a little bit short."
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