Glenbard South gets needed win at West Chicago
The chips will fall where they may when Illinois High School Association football playoff pairings are announced Saturday, but Glenbard South did what it needed to Friday at West Chicago.
The Raiders won the Upstate Eight Conference game 30-10, as quarterback Nick Plaso accounted for 238 yards and 3 touchdowns. He scored on a 1-yard run and threw 2 touchdown passes to Tavion Keith.
Gaining playoff eligibility with the victory, Glenbard South (5-4, 5-4) expects its 40 "playoff points," or wins by opponents, will earn the program's eighth straight playoff berth and 12th postseason in 13 years.
"That was motivation in itself considering what we had on the table," said Glenbard South coach Ryan Crissey. "The kids were really locked in this week during practice. We said it's all about effort and execution and that's what they gave us. The beautiful part is the kids played with passion, they played with energy."
They played with ballhawk mentality. West Chicago (1-8, 1-8) got intercepted 6 times, 2 by Gavin Fitzpatrick and 1 apiece by Mark Wilson, Cade DiFranco, Noah Gibson and Alejandro Lopez. That joins a bunch of teams tied for 17th place in IHSA records. West Chicago's Marco Calderon also picked off a pass.
"We all focused and did our jobs. We played really well today, played as a team," Fitzpatrick said. "We were really working on getting inside and over top of all the receivers, so our (defensive backs) really were strong this game."
No-huddle Glenbard South scored the first two times it had the ball, on 65- and 80-yard drives. Antonio Carter took in a pitch from 15 yards for the first score, and Plaso faked to Carter and ran off left tackle Brendan Fearon on the second.
Former sophomore quarterback Keith showed his versatility by taking a pitch and then passing to Yazan Blan for a 23-yard play that set up Keith's own 5-yard touchdown catch. Fitzpatrick's first interception and 21-yard return set up Spencer Pyle's 27-yard field goal for a 23-0 halftime lead.
"I just came off injury and it feels pretty good to be back," said Keith, who caught 7 passes for 92 yards. "I feel like I got my legs under me again and I'm feeling pretty healthy right now."
Despite West Chicago's solid line play both offensively and defensively, Glenbard South led 30-0 at 4:36 of the third quarter on a 17-yard Plaso pass to Keith, set up by Gibson's interception.
West Chicago got on the scoreboard on a safety, and on Luke Krogh's 16-yard touchdown strike to Marko Filipovic in the waning seconds. Fellow 6-foot-5 Wildcats senior receiver Mike Wagner caught 13 passes for 183 yards.
"I'm going to miss being with them on the field, playing with them. I loved every second of it," said Wagner, who wielded a mean stiff arm.
Wildcats first-year coach Jack Rustman will miss seniors such as Wagner but will have many players returning.
"We had a whole bunch of first-year guys, seven starting sophomores, so we're super young and inexperienced and that kind of showed. One thing that's going to be huge is the off-season," he said.