In terms of season openers, few football games top the annual showdown between Glenbard West and Wheaton Warrenville South.
Saturday's final meeting, though, meant a little extra ... especially for the victorious Hilltoppers.
Flashing signs of brilliance on both sides of the ball, Glenbard West closed the series in style with a 21-10 win over WW South at Duchon Field in Glen Ellyn.
"It's a huge rivalry, they're just a couple miles away from here," said Hilltoppers senior linebacker Ben Marcus. "It's always great to beat them."
Look no further than third-down conversions to see how solid the Hilltoppers played. While the offense converted 9-of-12 third-down attempts, the defense held WW South to 1-of-8 on third down and 1-of-4 on fourth down.
The Tigers ran off nearly nine minutes to start the game but settled for a 26-yard field goal by Andrew Ives. Glenbard West responded with touchdown drives of 9 and 16 plays, both capped by Donahvon Vaughn with a 1-yard dive and a 4-yard, fourth-down catch from Kyle Kramer.
The first drive featured a third-and-11 conversion on a Sam Brodner run, while the second drive included a 38-yard pass from Kramer to Marcus on third-and-24.
Glenbard West surged to a 21-3 lead on the opening series of the third quarter. Brodner, who had 15 carries for 65 yards, finished the 12-play drive with a 5-yard scoring run.
"I feel like we're that much more dangerous," Vaughn said. "Every other team has to cover that much more things. Once we get teams guessing, we just blow them out of the water."
WW South quarterback Josh Prueter, who threw for 147 yards and rushed for 105, breathed some life into his team with a 61-yard fourth-quarter touchdown run to pull the Tigers within 21-10. Ten minutes remained at that point, but Glenbard West proceeded to grind out nearly seven minutes on its next possession.
The Hilltoppers showed near-perfect balance with 133 rushing yards and 145 passing yards from Kramer, who completed 12 of 19 attempts. They outgained WW South by a slim 278-262 margin.
"Credit to them executing their offense," said WW South coach Ron Muhitch. "We didn't finish drives offensively, so not our best performance."
Because the DuPage Valley Conference is expanding to nine teams next school year, WW South had to drop its Week 1 nonconference game in favor of a league game. Glenbard West will play Bolingbrook in Week 1 next year.
"We're playing at home and we wanted to be able to come back out and finish the game off, knowing it's the last time we're going to play them," said Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet. "I don't know if we'll see them again, but as far as we know right now this is the last game of the rivalry. So it was awesome."
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