Glenbard South win is extra meaningful

 
 
Updated 8/29/2018 9:32 PM
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Glenbard South's football team finished strongly to earn an important victory.

Beating Streamwood 23-10 last week, the Raiders not only won their first season opener since a 39-21 win over Addison Trail in 2013, they won their first game in the Upstate Eight Conference after shifting from the Metro Suburban Conference.

"It was a very positive way to set the tone for the season," said Glenbard South coach Ryan Crissey. "It's the first time in five years that we won our first game, so that was nice to just really have a positive look going into the remainder of the season. And the game really showed the coaching staff that our kids can really persevere through some adversity."

Despite running only 37 plays on offense, Glenbard South snapped a 10-10 tie when it gained possession late in the fourth quarter and got the go-ahead score on senior running back Antonio Carter's 19-yard touchdown run. The Raiders added insurance on senior safety Gavin Fitzpatrick's 20-yard interception return for touchdown.

For the bulk of the game, Crissey believed Glenbard South defensive linemen Anthony Kramer, Jayquan Coleman, Connor Murphy and Fenton transfer Damari Harrod "outphysicaled" Streamwood up front. That allowed linebackers Tony Ashley, Noah Gibson and Mark Wilson to "flow freely to the football," the coach said.

"What was confirmed for me was that our kids have that fighter's mentality," he said. "It's going to be a battle every single game on the line of scrimmage."

Digging beneath the surface:

The biggest story of Week 1 of the football season in DuPage County came from Wheaton Warrenville South junior kicker Jack Olsen, who broke an IHSA record by booting 8 field goals and accounting for 24 points in a 26-0 win over Metea Valley.

But it wasn't the only story from that game.

After spending several years as the program's offensive coordinator, coach Ron Muhitch returned to his roots in his first game back as defensive coordinator. The Tigers responded with their second straight shutout over Metea Valley.

Jake Stransky and Jack Kelly each had 9 tackles, the defense forced 6 turnovers and notched 3 tackles for loss. The unit also had a safety, 5 pass breakups and 7 quarterback hurries.

It was a great starting point as WW South began a stretch of four home games to begin the season.

"We needed a positive start like that," Muhitch said. "We're working with a lot of guys who are not experienced at the varsity level, and a game like that really helps their confidence."

The other end of the spectrum was on offense. While it was great that Olsen made 8 of 9 field-goal attempts, it also meant the Tigers failed to score a touchdown despite being in position several times.

WW South's offense, though, has a new set of skill players. It may take time for them to find their varsity legs.

"We need to do a better job converting those opportunities into touchdowns," Muhitch said. "I think it'll happen."

No worries:

Glenbard West lost to fellow state power Maine South on Friday, but this effort felt different to the Hilltoppers than last year's 62-34 defeat.

Maine South still won 35-14 after scoring 21 straight second-quarter points, but much of the damage was self-inflicted for Glenbard West. Coach Chad Hetlet is confident his team can clean up the effort.

"I thought we made a lot of mistakes, but we also did a lot of good things," Hetlet said. "I'm not disappointed in how we played."

Three turnovers and 10 penalties played a huge role in Maine South breaking out to its lead. The Hilltoppers played even with the Hawks in the first quarter and the second half, but the Hilltoppers couldn't dig out of the hole they dug in the second quarter.

Among the "good things" Hetlet saw was the performance of the running game, highlighted by the 180-yard, 2-touchdown performance by Tyquan Cox. Kameron Bedford and junior Joey Richmond also played well while acclimating themselves as new members of the backfield.

Glenbard West travels to Proviso East this weekend. The defense hopes to return third-year starting lineman Marky Winters to the lineup, which would give the team an immediate boost.

"We have to be much cleaner this week," Hetlet said. "If we can clean up the kind of mistakes we were making against Maine South, we'll look a lot better."

Playmaker:

St. Francis senior Joe Lang had a huge hand -- or two -- in the Spartans' season-opening 26-20 nonconference win over Argo at Kuhn Memorial Stadium in Wheaton.

The 5-foot-7, 150-pound receiver and defensive back returned an Argo punt 39 yards for a touchdown that gave the Spartans a 26-14 lead.

In crunchtime, with Argo driving and St. Francis holding onto its 6-point lead, Lang intercepted a pass at his own 11-yard line to secure the victory.

Be aggressive:

As Naperville North fell behind 30-0 to Simeon, the obvious became painful.

"We were just too passive coming out," said Huskies coach Sean Drendel. "We need to be way more aggressive from now on."

The 30-20 loss was similar to last season's opener when the Huskies fell behind 42-0 to Edwardsville but rallied to victory. They also fell into early holes in losses to Glenbard North and Neuqua Valley.

The good news was the recovery against Simeon. The Huskies managed only 12 plays and 40 yards of offense during a first half where they struggled to consistently run the ball.

Naperville North turned loose the passing game in the second half. Quarterback Cliff Vickers threw for 220 yards, with the bulk of the yardage going to receiver Matt Heinz.

It gets no easier for Naperville North this weekend against defending Class 7A champion Batavia, and the Huskies aim to respond accordingly.

"We won't be passive again, it's just not going to happen," Drendel said. "We're going to attack people and really speed it up."

It's a first:

In the wake of Montini's 52-0 victory over Hyde Park, Broncos coach Mike Bukovsky believed he had a team record on his hands.

Senior linebacker Jackson Bruscianelli recorded a sack on Hyde Park's first offensive play. Later on a pair of juniors, linebacker Trevor Swiek and defensive lineman Patrick Peters teamed up on a second sack of Thunderbirds quarterback Laurence Holloway in the end zone.

With those two plays Bukovsky said it was the first time Montini's defense had recorded two safeties in the same game.

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