A big reason why Glenbard West's developed into an elite football program is because of its punishing ground game.
So what's the message in the Hilltoppers' championship at the Red Grange Summer Classic 7-on-7 tournament? Time will tell, but the Hilltoppers aren't about to become "Air West."
"I don't know what it says that we won the Grange, but I think we can be balanced offensively," said Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet. "We haven't always been that way, but I think we can be this year."
Quarterback Kyle Kramer threw no interceptions at the Grange, and receiver Aidan Gould was named the event's top receiver. It's a great start for the passing game, but it's the running game that has the potential to again be dominant.
Junior Sam Brodner missed the bulk of last season due to injury, but he, Donahvon Vaughn, who rushed for 400 yards, Montini transfer Jeremy Pope and Brenen Wilson add to a backfield mix that'll keep the chains moving.
"I've never seen so much depth in the backfield like this," Hetlet said. "If we can be consistent passing the ball, and we can do what we do running the ball, we'll be pretty good."
Glenbard West always pieces together a powerful offensive line, but center Jack Kane is the lone returner. To bolster the unit Darien Kaufman, a defensive lineman on last year's sophomore team, is switching to offense.
Speaking of the defensive line, the Hilltoppers return both ends in Declan Ryan, who led last year's team with 9.5 sacks, and Nate Orrison. Hetlet believes he has five quality linemen he can rotate in.
The defensive strength lies with outside linebackers Ben Marcus and junior Ross Andreasik, who missed last season with an injury. Despite the graduation of three-year starting safety Hayden Carlson, the secondary remains strong with returning cornerbacks Jason Balogh and Ryan Thomas.
"Our off-season has been the best we've ever had in terms of kids working hard," Hetlet said. "We'll see if that carries over this season."
Coach: Chad Hetlet (eighth year, 76-12; 11th year overall, 94-24).
2013 record: 11-2, 6-0, first in West Suburban Silver.
Top players: Ben Marcus (LB, 6-1, 185, sr.); Aidan Gould (WR, 6-3, 195, sr.); Sam Brodner (RB, 5-11, 210, jr.); Ryan Thomas (DB, 5-8, 160, sr.); Jack Kane (OL, 6-1, 240, sr.); Kyle Kramer (QB, 6-3, 200, sr.); Donahvon Vaughn (RB, 5-11, 185, sr.); Ross Andreasik (LB, 6-2, 205, jr.).
Sat, 8/30 WW South at Glenbard West 1:30 p.m.
Sat, 9/6 Morton at Glenbard West 1:30 p.m.
Sat, 9/13 Downers North at Glenbard West 1:30 p.m.
Sat, 9/20 Lyons Township at Glenbard West 1:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/26 Glenbard West at Hinsdale Central 7:30 p.m.
Sat, 10/4 Oak Park at Glenbard West 1:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/10 Glenbard West at Proviso West 7:30 p.m.
Sat, 10/18 Addison Trail at Glenbard West 1:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/24 Glenbard West at York 7:30 p.m.