Glenbard West avenges playoff loss to Lockport
Korey Tai and Glenbard West did not need any added motivation for their playoff opener, but it was provided with a rematch against Lockport.
The Hilltoppers made certain history didn't repeat itself.
Tai, Glenbard West's senior quarterback, threw for three touchdowns and ran for a fourth score. The Hilltoppers scored touchdowns on their first four possessions of the game, and avenged last year's playoff loss in emphatic fashion, 38-7 over defending state champion Lockport in Saturday's Class 8A first-round game at Duchon Field.
"It definitely sparked a fire," said Tai, who was 7-for-8 passing for 164 yards. "Last year they took us out, they're defending 8A champions so that pushed us a little bit more to set the tone. I was motivated all week, starting on Monday."
It was not hard to get up for a team that knocked the Hilltoppers out in the second round last season, 34-0, en route to the Class 8A title.
Glenbard West (9-1) returned all five starters on the offensive line from that group that was shut out last year, anchored by Wisconsin recruit Chris Terek.
On Saturday the Hilltoppers amassed 372 yards of offense, 241 coming in the first half that saw Glenbard West take a 28-7 lead into halftime.
"It hurt last year," Terek said. "We wanted to make sure we came in and we pounded it. That's what we did."
Glenbard West wasted no time in ensuring that the rematch would bear no resemblance to last year.
Julius Ellens' 31-yard TD run capped off an eight-play, 81-yard drive on the game's opening possession. On Lockport's first play from scrimmage, a pass was tipped and intercepted by Glenbard West's Eli Limouris. It turned into a 14-yard Tai TD run for a 14-0 lead with 6:25 left in the first quarter.
"We talked about starting fast, we got some luck with some turnovers and we took advantage of it and capitalized on them," Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet said. "Starting fast was important for our kids. People can say it's a different Lockport team but that's a team that just won state and beat the brakes off us last year."
Lockport (5-5), which was on its third quarterback and third running back due to injuries, turned it over three times. The miscues prevented any hope of a comeback.
The Porters, inside the Hilltoppers' 10-yard line in the last minute of the half, coughed up a fumble which Glenbard West's Joey Pope pounced on at the 1-yard line. The Porters fumbled the second-half kickoff, which turned into Marcello Diomede's 21-yard field goal for a 31-7 Hilltoppers' lead.
Regardless of the mistakes, Lockport coach George Czart acknowledged what his team was up against Saturday.
"The problem was we couldn't give our offense more chances. Defensively we couldn't stop them," Czart said. "They were too high octane, had too many things to try to stop and we didn't stop any of it effectively."
Tai's passing was a big reason why the Hilltoppers' offense was running on full Saturday.
After Brady Pfeiffer took in a 2-yard TD run for Lockport to close the gap to 14-7, Tai connected with Filip Maciorowski for a 49-yard TD pass on play-action.
On Glenbard West's next drive Tai floated a deep ball in perfectly for a 41-yard TD to Dewayne Smith down the left sideline. Tai finished his day with his second TD to Maciorowski, from 15 yards out in the fourth quarter.
"I thought Korey had the best game of his career today," Hetlet said. "He managed the offensively effectively, he put the ball exactly where it needed to be, ran it when he needed to, and when we took our shots he put the ball where it needed to be."
On the other side Lockport's Caden Miller, starting at quarterback with Pfeiffer affected by a shoulder injury, was 15-for-22 passing for 172 yards. Elijah Beltran, Lockport's third-string running back, rushed for 49 yards. The Porters also were without two middle linebackers in the culmination of an injury-plagued season.
"It feels like we've had 14 different starting lineups due to injuries," Czart said. "Every game it was different. We'll take it to heart. We'll take some time, lick our wounds, and get back in the weight room."
Meanwhile, Glenbard West advances to host Glenbrook South next weekend. The Hilltoppers seek their first quarterfinal appearance since 2016, history not lost on Hetlet and his kids.
"It's a big deal for us. We want to make our mark in Hitter history," Terek said. "There's a rich tradition here and we want to be a part of it."
Ellens ran for 93 yards on 15 carries for Glenbard West.