It was a matter of time before the downpour arrived, and everyone knew it.
Leading at halftime was critical, and Tyquan Cox knew it.
The Glenbard West junior returned a kick 88 yards for a touchdown in the final minute of the first half, giving the Hilltoppers the margin they needed in Saturday's 14-9 West Suburban Silver victory over Hinsdale Central at rain-soaked, mud-filled Duchon Field in Glen Ellyn.
"I watch the weather," joked Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet. "I thought it was going to be important (to lead at halftime) because the rain was coming in the second half."
Cox burst down the right sideline for a stunning touchdown that came after the Red Devils chose a 20-yard Quintin Wallace field goal instead of going for it on fourth and goal at the 3.
The return gave Glenbard West (6-1, 4-0) a 14-3 halftime lead as the rain started hammering the grass field. It was just enough to avenge last year's overtime loss to Hinsdale Central (5-2, 4-1).
"Any weather is Glenbard West football weather," Cox said. "It shouldn't matter. We always know we can still execute play after play after play."
Beyond the return by Cox, special teams were huge. Glenbard West's Jamari Peoples blocked a punt in the first quarter to set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Dre Thomas, who churned for 113 yards on 26 carries. Jerico Malunay reversed the field all day with a 38-yard average on 5 punts.
Defensively, Jack Campanella and Greyson Metz came up with interceptions to thwart Hinsdale Central drives.
"It was a mud-bowl basically," Thomas said. "We had a rainy practice week and our coaches said we'd have to get used to it. I think we did pretty well in it."
Hinsdale Central's switch to the Wildcat with Garrett Oakey behind center paid dividends in the third quarter. His 30-yard touchdown run, helping him to 98 rushing yards for the game, narrowed the deficit to 14-9 after the extra-point attempt failed.
Nick Biancalana's third-quarter blocked punt gave Hinsdale Central great field position at the Hilltoppers' 20-yard line, but Glenbard West's defense held.
"We kind of put ourselves in a hole and never really recovered," said Hinsdale Central coach Dan Hartman.
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