You've got to start somewhere to eventually reach the finish line.
Glenbard West's football team began its quest for a Class 7A state championship by overcoming some first-round frustrations in Saturday's 34-7 victory over Prospect in Glen Ellyn.
The top-seeded Hilltoppers (10-0) turned the ball over four times and committed 13 penalties for 120 yards, but nothing seemed to faze them. Sixteenth-seeded Prospect (5-5) pulled within 14-7 early in the second quarter on quarterback Sam Frasco's 66-yard touchdown run before Glenbard West took a 24-7 lead to the half en route to scoring 20 straight points.
Glenbard West will play host to No. 8 Lake Zurich (7-3) next Saturday at Duchon Field.
"I think our offense by far was the best so far this season," said Hilltoppers quarterback Justice Odom. "You could really feel the rhythm."
When Glenbard West wasn't being flagged for penalties, the offense moved the chains. Avery Balogh ran for 118 yards, Odom had 81 and Kendall Johnson added 64 yards as the Hilltoppers' offensive line helped plow the way for 360 rushing yards.
Joey Zito started the game with a pair of first-quarter touchdown runs. Before halftime Odom scored on a 20-yard run and Johnson tallied a third-quarter touchdown. Dan Cavazos contributed field goals of 40 and 27 yards.
Prospect, led by Frasco's 129 yards on the ground and 152 in the air, piled up nearly 300 total yards but never made it inside Glenbard West's 40-yard line after the Knights' touchdown.
Prospect suffered similar issues as the Hilltoppers, committing 7 penalties for 63 yards and turning the ball over four times.
"Glenbard West is a very good football team," said Prospect coach Mike Sebestyen. "But I can't be more proud of my kids. They kept fighting, we had it 14-7. We moved the ball at times. Unfortunately we shot ourselves in the foot too many times."
Alex Emanuel, Joe Marconi, Mike Marston and Hayden Carlson snared interceptions for Glenbard West, while Nick Meersman did the same for Prospect. Before the game Hilltoppers defensive lineman Tommy Schutt was honored for being selected to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January.
"Defensively we played well, we played fast, played physical," Schutt said. "Just little things we've got to clean up like penalties and turnovers and miscues on defense, and we'll be in good shape."