Glenbard East looks like a playoff veteran against Prospect
With its last playoff football game coming in 1999, Glenbard East made up for lost time.
In its Class 7A opener No. 2 seed Glenbard East beat No. 31 Prospect 40-14 Friday in Lombard to secure its first 10-win season in history and advance to play the winner of Saturday's game between No. 18 Hoffman Estates and host No. 15 East St. Louis.
"We knew we just had to do our game," said Rams quarterback Bret Bushka, who on top of huge passing numbers ran for 83 yards with a 23-yard touchdown run to start the fireworks. "All 53 had to do their job and it really showed, 40 to 14. There was no nerves. We knew just play Ram football and we'll be all right."
Bushka completed 19 of 30 passes for 399 yards and 5 touchdowns. Four scores were to old pal Jeremy Johnson, who caught 9 passes for 251 yards. Running back Jake Netchin ran for 104 of Glenbard East's 628 yards of offense.
"It's special," said Johnson, who scored on plays of 22, 26, 17 and a whopping 96-yarder that had Glenbard East (10-0) leading 13-0 after one quarter.
"Coach (John Walters) was talking with us before that game started -- being a team that hasn't been in the playoffs in 19 years, and we said we wanted a home playoff game. I think that's just how much we trust and know our talent and how much heart we have as a team," Johnson said.
Twice early Prospect (5-5) was deep in Rams territory but didn't score. Late in the first quarter the Knights tried a fake field goal from the 18-yard line, a pass intercepted by alert Glenbard East deep man Chris Gockman.
Early in the second quarter Luke Zardzin's 42-yard kickoff return and Matthew Meyer's 43-yard reception helped Prospect reach Glenbard East's 4-yard line. The Rams held, once from the 2 and twice from the 1-yard line.
"Dylan Marin, Ruben Ramirez, Nick Andrews, Jesus Lopez -- the front five on the line just stacks up, plus our linebackers (Anthony) Shockey and (Josh) Landolino and (Jack) Baka, we just stuff the hole and we're not going to let anything get past us," said two-way lineman Ben Pham.
"To be a 31 seed," said Prospect coach Dan DeBoeuf, "we finish those two drives we're right there with them at the end and that's where we wanted to be. We'll use it, we'll try to learn for next year."
Bushka's 22-yard pass to Johnson and a 37-yarder to Pat Crossland had the Rams up 27-0 before Prospect's hurry-up scheme made it 27-7 at halftime on James Martin's 14-yard touchdown pass to Meyer.
Prospect linebacker Michael Cima recovered a fumble that led to Martin's 30-yard throwback pass to Zardzin to pull the Knights within 27-14 at 10:12 of the fourth quarter. Glenbard East answered with two Bushka touchdown passes to Johnson. Rams safety Jason Torrevillas intercepted 2 passes in the last 5:22.
"Really special, double digits, 10-0, being able to be on our home field for the playoffs, just a great night for us and our program," Walters said.
"We're getting on the right track," said Martin, who in his last game ran for 55 yards and threw for 270. "We got back to the playoffs, that's what we needed to do for this program to take the next step. I think that's huge, and there's a very bright future for this program."