Scouting the Class 7A football championship game

Updated 11/23/2012 7:44 PM
  • Lake Zurich's Matt Moon and Glenbard West's Scott Andrews yank on each other's face masks as Andrews speeds down the boundary line towards the end zone in the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 17.

      Lake Zurich's Matt Moon and Glenbard West's Scott Andrews yank on each other's face masks as Andrews speeds down the boundary line towards the end zone in the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 17. Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

Class 7A football championship

Lincoln-Way East (13-0) vs. Glenbard West (13-0)

Game time: 4 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium, Champaign

TV: Comcast SportsNet

Road to the championship: Lincoln-Way East, the top seed in an eight-team southern regional bracket of Class 7A, beat No. 8 Plainfield Central 47-22, No. 4 Providence 24-14, No. 2 Edwardsville 40-10, and No. 2 Benet 37-13. Glenbard West, the No. 1 seed in the northern regional 7A bracket, beat No. 16 Elk Grove 49-21, No. 9 Libertyville 38-10, No. 5 Wheaton North 3-0, and No. 6 Lake Zurich 19-13.

Coaches: Lincoln-Way East coach Rob Zvonar has been the Griffins' coach since their first varsity season in 2001. Starting with a 6-4 record his first year, Zvonar's teams never have missed the playoffs. He enters his second state title game with a 12-year record of 115-26, including a 14-0 record and Class 8A title in 2005. In nine years Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet never has missed the playoffs. Following a one-year stint at Johnsburg and two years at McHenry, in 2007 Hetlet inherited a Hilltoppers program that hadn't qualified for the playoffs since 2003. Entering his second state title game, Hetlet carries a career record of 82-23, including a six-year mark of 64-10 with the Hilltoppers. After guiding Glenbard West to a 7A runner-up finish in 2009, Hetlet's goal is to add to Glenbard West's 1983 5A title.

Starting offenses:

Lincoln-Way East Glenbard West

Name Ht. Wt. Yr. Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr.

Tom Fuessel 6-3 180 Sr. QB Henry Haeffner 6-2 185 Sr.

Nick Colangelo 5-10 195 Sr. RB Devante Toney 5-10 200 Jr.

Chris Pierie 6-1 170 Jr. WR/RB Scott Andrews 5-8 170 Jr.

Austin Winkler 6-0 160 Jr. WR/RB Joe Zito 5-9 185 Sr.

Justin Corbett 6-2 205 Sr. WR Luke Domask 5-11 170 Jr.

Josh Maholovich 5-8 180 Sr. WR/TE Nathan Marcus 6-5 220 Sr.

Nick Allegretti 6-4 280 Jr. C Jack Manzella 6-0 195 Sr.

Nick Cocorikis 6-2 230 Sr. G Nick Garland 6-2 230 Sr.

Mitch Arvidson 6-0 200 Sr. G Jake Brodner 6-2 245 Sr.

Tom Plunkett 6-3 270 Sr. T Max Bruere 6-4 235 Sr.

Ryan Weitendorf 6-0 210 Sr. T Eric Shute 6-5 280 Jr.

Anthony Sciarini 5-10 150 Jr. K Hayden Lekacz 6-1 175 Jr.

Starting Defenses:

Lincoln-Way East Glenbard West

Name Ht. Wt. Yr. Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr.

Adam Hould 6-0 210 Sr. DE/DL Ruben Dunbar 6-3 255 Sr.

Curt Olbrich 6-0 205 Sr. DE/DL Jack Wheeler 6-1 215 Sr.

Mike Stachowicz 6-2 210 Sr. DT/DL A.J. Smith 6-0 215 Jr.

Scott Kresal 6-2 230 Jr. DT/LB Joe Marconi 6-0 190 Sr.

Mitch Murphy 5-11 180 Sr. LB Jordan Hassan 5-10 185 Jr.

Adam O'Grady 6-0 200 Sr. LB Grant Greeno 6-2 195 Jr.

Kyle Langenderfer 5-8 150 Sr. LB Tyler Dayton 6-1 205 Sr.

Jarrett Lecas 5-11 160 Sr. DB/LB Contrell Silmon 6-0 190 Sr.

Sean Doherty 5-11 170 Sr. DB Keeshawn Matthews 5-10 170 Sr.

Moe Almasri 5-11 165 Sr. DB Charlie Sweeney 5-11 170 Sr.

Brendan Sleeman 6-1 180 Sr. DB Hayden Carlson 6-0 180 Jr.

Tom Fuessel 6-3 180 Sr. P Richard Johnson 6-0 205 Sr.

When Lincoln-Way East has the ball: Fuessel's stellar season was known heading into last week, but his 80-yard touchdown run against Benet opened eyes to his explosiveness. The Griffins still run the four-receiver set that's caused teams fits for years, but with a different emphasis. As opposed to a quick passing game, it's about Fuessel's play-making ability. He's thrown for 1,070 yards and rushed for 1,502, joining Colangelo as a 1,000-yard rusher. Lincoln-Way East's 3,200 rushing yards dwarf what it's done with the pass, although Corbett has 27 catches. While Fuessel is probably the best quarterback Glenbard West has faced, the Hilltoppers have faced similar quarterbacks in Hinsdale Central's Brian Owens and Lyons Township's Zach Mahoney. Swarming to the ball and stopping the run is the strength of Glenbard West's defense, evidenced when it held Lake Zurich to 38 rushing yards. Every level of Glenbard West's defense is solid starting with Wheeler and Dunbar up front and continuing with linebackers Marconi and Dayton, and Carlson at safety. While susceptible to the pass, the Hilltoppers have negated that threat with fierce quarterback pressure.

When Glenbard West has the ball: Andrews has struggled with a sprained ankle in the playoffs, but coach Hetlet says he's getting better every day. Andrews, who leads a 3,000-yard rushing attack with 1,250 yards, could have played in the second half last week but didn't. That allowed powerful Toney to take over with his fullback dives behind a dominant line anchored by Brodner and Garland. Zito, with 746 rushing yards, is the third member of the three-headed rushing monster. Vanderbilt-bound tight end Marcus, who has 51 catches for 884 yards, remains the obvious No. 1 option for Haeffner, but last week the crafty quarterback hit speedster Nate Hokenson for a 73-yard touchdown pass on the game's second play. The Griffins need to contain Marcus, but they can't let Hokenson, Domask or Andrews slip away. Lincoln-Way East has surrendered more points in the playoffs than during the regular season, but the offense has outscored opponents. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better group of linebackers than Murphy, O'Grady and Langenderfer. The Griffins aren't huge on defense but, like Glenbard West, they're extremely quick.

Intangibles: Since the start of the season these teams have been considered the best in 7A. Now that the showdown's finally arrived, which side will better handle the big-game pressure? Glenbard West's defense is a clear team strength, but the Hilltoppers have played short-handed all season due to injuries to linebackers Erik Strittmater and A.J. DellaPolla, who returned to special teams action last week. Strittmater, recovered from a broken leg, may actually start this game. If he does, that'd be a major emotional boost to the entire team.

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