Scouting the Glenbard West Hilltoppers
Glenbard West's best defenses traditionally lead to its best football teams.
That's good news for the Hilltoppers this season.
Seven starters return from a unit that improved as last season progressed. Three players -- lineman Dave Lanciloti, linebacker Sean Michel and safety Greyson Metz -- are juniors who were promoted to varsity as injuries hammered the lineup.
Marky Winters is a third-year starter up front, while Jayden Rodgers, Kyle Dell and Otis Nevins power the linebacker corps so critical to the team's 3-5-3 scheme.
It's experience rarely seen even in Glenbard West's state title seasons.
"It's a lot of no-name guys, but when you've got seven back it's pretty exciting," coach Chad Hetlet said. "We had some growing pains last year, and you hope it pays off."
The offense is thin on experience, with one key exception. Speedy running back Tyquan Cox, a threat in the return game, is back after last season rushing for 11 touchdowns and a team-high 1,077 yards.
The passing game, despite the graduation of all-state receiver Alec Pierce, should be improved. Quarterback Tommy Bleker saw significant playing time at the end of last year, and he's bolstered by 6-foot-5 receiver Ethan Graff.
The offensive line returns just one starter, but Hank Knez will be one of the better lineman in the West Suburban Silver. With Kameron Bedford and Joey Richmond in the backfield, the Hilltoppers will balance the workload for Cox.
After a second-round playoff exit ended last year's nine-game winning streak, Glenbard West is hungry for another deep postseason run.
As in past years, the Hilltoppers have the defense to make it happen.
"I wasn't happy with the way we competed at times last season," Hetlet said. "We have to be ready to compete every game."
One to watch: Just like last season, there's no looking past that Week 1 game against Maine South.
Coach: Chad Hetlet (12th year, 121-18; 14th year overall, 139-30).
2017 record: 9-2, 6-0, first in West Suburban Silver.
Top players: Tyquan Cox (RB, 5-9, 170, sr.), Greyson Metz (DB, 6-3, 195, jr.), Marky Winters (DL, 6-2, 235, sr.), Jayden Rodgers (LB, 5-11, 180, sr.), Tommy Bleker (QB, 5-11, 180, sr.), Hank Knez (OL, 6-3, 245, sr.), Ethan Graff (WR, 6-5, 195, sr.), Dave Lanciloti (DL, 6-1, 270, jr.), Kyle Dell (LB, 5-11, 180, sr.), Sean Michel (LB, 6-1, 190, jr.), Otis Nevins (LB, 6-1, 205, sr.), Kameron Bedford (RB, 5-9, 175, sr.).
-- Kevin Schmit
Fri, 8/24, Glenbard West at Maine South, 7 p.m.
Fri, 8/31, Glenbard West at Proviso East, 6 p.m.
Sat, 9/8, Addison Trail at Glenbard West, 1:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/14, Glenbard West at York, 7:30 p.m.
Sat, 9/22, Downers Grove North at Glenbard West, 1:30 p.m.
Sat, 9/29, Lyons at Glenbard West, 1:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/5, Glenbard West at Hinsdale Central, 7:30 p.m.
Sat, 10/13, Oak Park-River Forest at Glenbard West, 1:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/19, Glenbard West at Proviso West, 7:30 p.m.