Glenbard North's football team isn't just beating opponents.
The Panthers are punishing them.
Dominating on both lines, Glenbard North rolled into the Class 8A semifinals with Saturday's 28-0 victory over Stevenson in Carol Stream.
The 11th-seeded Panthers (9-3) advance to the semifinals for the third time in five years to face top-seeded Loyola (12-0), a 33-10 winner over Lyons Twp., in a game to be played Saturday in Wilmette. The Ramblers beat Glenbard North in the first round of the 2008 playoffs.
"The defense just played great today," said Panthers defensive back Tremel Smith, who snared an interception that led to a second-quarter touchdown. "From the DBs to the linebackers to the D-line, we all just did what we had to do and we did it right. We shut down a great team, a great offense. It was a great challenge and we were ready for it."
While the defense allowed an impressive total of only 79 yards to the No. 7 Patriots (9-3), Glenbard North's running back duo of Phil and Justin Jackson combined for 231 of the team's 278 rushing yards.
The physical play on both sides of the ball proved decisive for Glenbard North.
"You have to give a lot of credit to Glenbard North," said Stevenson coach Bill McNamara, whose team upset No. 2 Maine South last week to advance to the quarterfinals. "That's one heck of a football team. They came out ready to play. They got the momentum early with the wind. We had a lot of near misses. We just didn't get it done today, but a lot of that had to do with the opponent today."
The wind dictated field position and helped Glenbard North notch its first-quarter touchdown on Justin Jackson's nifty 19-yard touchdown run that featured a wicked cut near the goal line.
Smith's interception set up the Panthers at their 40-yard line late in the second quarter, leading to Justin Jackson's 44-yard touchdown on a delayed draw.
Alex Mendez grabbed another interception at Stevenson's 35-yard line, and Panthers quarterback Brian Murphy made it hurt by lobbing a 20-yard touchdown pass to Trevor Hackett. Phil Jackson's 2-point run put the Panthers ahead 21-0 at the half.
"We came into the game, we said we were looking to shut them out and we did," Justin Jackson said. "We've got to keep this approach going into next week."
Stevenson seemed to get some life with Carl Miller's blocked punt at the start of the second half, but the ensuing drive stalled with a missed 40-yard field goal. That came on the heels of the Patriots' 32-yard missed field goal in the second quarter that could have trimmed the deficit to 7-3.
Six straight runs by Glenbard North culminated in Phil Jackson's 46-yard touchdown run and a 28-0 third-quarter lead. The Panthers ran the ball on 51 of their 54 plays from scrimmage, while Stevenson quarterback Matt Micucci completed 9 of 26 passes for 59 yards and running back Kevin Foley had 14 yards on 10 carries.
"Our defense played just awesome," said Panthers coach Ryan Wilkens. "Against the run we were fantastic, and they went to the pass and we were able to pressure the quarterback very well."