Saturday afternoon's football game against visiting Proviso West might have seemed like just a formality, but Glenbard West treated it as anything but.
Using the game to prepare for the upcoming IHSA playoffs, the Hilltoppers stormed to a 56-14 victory at Duchon Field. In the process the Hilltoppers (8-1, 6-0) not only clinched a first-round home playoff game next Saturday, they also took back the West Suburban Conference Silver Division championship, no sharing necessary.
"It means a lot to us since we dominated conference every year until last year, when we didn't win conference," Glenbard West senior linebacker Ryan Santangelo said. "One of our big goals was to take conference back, and that's what we did."
It's a long way from the Hilltoppers' 62-34 season-opening loss to Maine South. Glenbard West has reeled off eight straight victories since then.
"It's extremely important for our seniors," Hilltoppers coach Chad Hetlet said. "We've moved some kids around. I feel like we're playing our best football right now."
The Hilltoppers took a 21-0 first-quarter lead on Proviso West (2-7, 0-6) thanks to a pair of Dre Thomas 8-yard touchdown runs and Ryan Diver's 23-yard catch on a screen pass from backup quarterback Tommy Bleker, who split time Saturday with starter Alex Hollensbe.
"We executed well early on," Hetlet said. "We had some things on special teams we need to do better at, but we played well."
Diver added a 59-yard touchdown reception and a 4-yard TD run in the second quarter, and the Hilltoppers took a 35-8 lead into halftime. A pair of Tyquan Cox touchdown runs put Glenbard West ahead 49-8 midway through the third quarter, and the Hilltoppers had a running clock the rest of the game. A 3-yard touchdown run by Glenbard West senior Nate Scheller ended the scoring.
That put the Hilltoppers in a good mood for the playoffs. They say they're ready.
"Yes, sir, yeah, we are," said Santangelo, known as "Rock" to his coaches and teammates. "Week by week, we're ready."