Glenbard West's most important opponent may have been its own expectations.
To their standards, the Hilltoppers didn't come out with their typical sharpness in Saturday afternoon's football matchup at Oak Park.
In the end, though, Glenbard West inevitably rolled to a 41-6 West Suburban Silver victory that featured a running clock for the final 14 minutes.
"This is the first game where we really started out slow," said Glenbard West receiver Nathan Marcus, who snared a pair of touchdown passes from quarterback Justice Odom. "It wasn't the way we wanted to start, but we got fired up at halftime and we really came out and turned it around in the second half."
The "slow" start began on the opening kickoff when Oak Park (2-3, 1-2) used a little trickery to recover a version of an onside kick. The Hilltoppers (5-0, 3-0) fumbled three more times in the game, one they gave away on their first possession. They committed 7 penalties and were hampered by a few dropped passes and slips early on.
Glenbard West's defense kept the Huskies at bay, forcing three-and-outs until Kendall Johnson, who rushed for 72 yards, opened a 7-0 lead with a 26-yard scoring run. After snuffing a fake punt by Oak Park late in the first quarter, the Hilltoppers took over.
Odom, who completed 10 of 15 passes for 228 yards and 3 touchdowns, connected with Marcus on a 21-yard touchdown pass. He then threw a 61-yard strike to Johnson and added a 9-yard scoring run before the half to boost the lead to 28-0.
"That first series we made a mistake, and that can't happen," Odom said. "Our offense can be so scary, it can be absolutely baffling. But we'll start making plays as the season progresses."
Glenbard West limited Oak Park to 3 first downs in the first half and 7 for the game. Standout running back Jakari Cammon rushed for 113 yards on 20 carries, but 46 yards came on a fourth-quarter touchdown run. The Hilltoppers allowed 130 total yards while forcing 8 punts.
"We played as a team and executed as a team," said Hilltoppers linebacker Alex Emanuel. "I think we realized we needed to get things together, and we finally came around and showed how we can play."
Joey Zito, whose 85 rushing yards contributed to a 307-yard rushing performance, added a 3-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Minutes later, Odom's 29-yard pass to Marcus initiated the running clock.
"I think we came back in the second half and were a little more focused," said Hilltoppers coach Chad Hetlet. "All year we've been getting it together right away in games, so maybe this is a good learning experience for us."