Blackhawks

Glenbard West holds off Lake Zurich

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Glenbard West holds off Lake Zurich

Mike Clark
SeasonPass.com

Glenbard West considers itself a run-first, pass-second team and that was literally the game plan on Saturday.

After Joe Zito ran for four yards on the first play from scrimmage, the Hilltoppers got a 73-yard scoring pass from Henry Haeffner to Nate Hokenson on the next snap.

"Nate Hokenson is one of the fastest kids in our conference," Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet said. "He's the fastest kid in our school. ... This was his moment to shine. We said, 'We're going to run that pass second play of the game come hell or high water."

The big play gave No. 1 Glenbard West a lead it never lost en route to a 19-13 win over No. 11 Lake Zurich in a Class 7A semifinal. The home game for Glenbard West was played at Glenbard South because of poor field conditions at the Hilltoppers' own stadium.

Haeffner threw another touchdown pass, a 22-yarder to Nathan Marcus just before halftime, and finished 9-of-14 for 156 yards as the Hilltoppers (13-0) showed another dimension on offense than the one they're best known for.

"I think we've known that we can throw all season," Haeffner said. "We don't really need to. We're a run-first offense all the way. "We all know that. I know that. The receivers know that. But if we need to throw, we'll do it."

The Hilltoppers also had a one-yard touchdown run from Devante Toney (20 carries, 73 yards) in building a 19-0 halftime lead. Scott Andrews added 66 yards on six carries, all in the first half, as he continued to deal with injury issues.

Glenbard West seemed on the verge of putting the game out of reach when Jordan Hassan recovered a Lake Zurich fumble inside the Bears' 20 early in the third quarter. Glenbard West had a first-and-goal at the Lake Zurich 7-yard line when the Bears suddenly came alive.

Grant Soucy recovered a Hilltoppers fumble and ran it back 95 yards for a score that cut the deficit to 19-6 at 7:05 of the third quarter.

"I had a caravan of white jerseys that I followed to the end zone," Soucy said. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime feeling."

The Bears scored on another fumble recovery to make it 19-13 late in the third This time Noah Allgood recovered a teammate's fumble and ran it in from two yards out.

"At halftime our mentality was not to make any mistakes and we made some," Haeffner said. "When we needed to secure the ball, we let it go. And that's something we need to work on."

But Glenbard West's defense forced a punt on Lake Zurich's next possession and got a takeaway on the Bears' final drive: an interception by Tyler Dayton with 2:00 left.

The Hilltoppers ran out the clock to earn a date with No. 4 Lincoln-Way East (13-0) in the Class 7A final next Saturday in Champaign. "To be honest, I think we started off a little too slow and it was ... too big of a hole to get out of," Soucy said.

The Hilltoppers held Lake Zurich to 28 rushing yards and 100 yards total. "Nobody's run on us all year," Hetlet said. "Those 11 guys on the field are as good as anybody in the state of Illinois against the run."

Corey Crawford expects to make season debut for Blackhawks on Thursday vs. Arizona

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USA TODAY

Corey Crawford expects to make season debut for Blackhawks on Thursday vs. Arizona

The wait is almost over.

After missing nearly 10 months with a concussion, Corey Crawford said he expects to start on Thursday when the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center. An official decision will come following the team's morning skate.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. ... It was a pretty long process. But I think the most important thing was not to rush anything. When I finally was out, it got to a point where I wasn’t in shape to play and it was time to rest and it’s unfortunate it took a lot longer than I would’ve liked. 

"It’s been long, but finally, just to get back and be practicing with the team has meant a lot. It’s good to get to this point now when you’re really close to playing. Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

Crawford's last appearance in an NHL game was Dec. 23, 2017 against the New Jersey Devils when he allowed three goals on seven shots in 13:22 of action before getting pulled. So of course, emotions will naturally be running high, especially in front of the hometown crowd.

"I'm sure I'll be a little anxious getting into it," Crawford said. "Some nerves. But we'll see. We'll wait until the morning, but I'm definitely excited I can tell you that."

It's obviously terrific news for the Blackhawks, who have picked up eight out of a possible 10 points to start the season and are getting their two-time Stanley Cup winning goalie back between the pipes. It's been a long time coming, and Crawford is coming back into a healthy situation where the Blackhawks are in a good spot in the standings.

"It's great news, I'm sure it'll be exciting for him exciting for our team, exciting for our fans and the organization as well," Patrick Kane said. "It’s probably a good situation all around. Cam [Ward] has done a great job of playing in the net so far. Crow is really good in practice right now, so I’m sure he’s itching to get back, too. We’ve had a good start here. It’s something we want to keep going, and I’m sure him coming back on home ice, in front of our crowd, will be a fun one for him and for our team."

There's no doubting how important Crawford is the team and organization. While there may be a little bit of rust early on, the Blackhawks are expecting him to look like his old self.

"He means a lot to the team," Quenneville said. "We felt last year was a good example of how important he was and how well he was playing for us, as well. We’ve gotten off to a decent start and he was a big factor in it. We know that goaltending is such a big part of the team and your success a lot of nights depends on him and his consistency’s always been in place.

"But he looks good in the net. He’s been off for a long, long time. Is there rust? Do we expect rust? I think the way he’s competing and practicing and finding pucks, he looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. So we’re looking forward to him getting in there and getting comfortable and how he’s feeling going forward will dictate a lot of the decisions about him going back in."

Bill Belichick scoffs at Khalil Mack-Lawrence Taylor comparison

Bill Belichick scoffs at Khalil Mack-Lawrence Taylor comparison

All of the good graces Bill Belichick may have won on Tuesday afternoon -- when he compared the Bears' offense to Kansas City's -- are officially gone. 

Today, when talking to reporters, a Khalil Mack-Lawrence Taylor comparison came up. Belichick, who coached LT as the New York Giants’ defensive coordinator in the 1980s, was NOT having it: 

"Wait a minute, we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor now. I’m not putting anybody in (LT’s) class. Put everybody down below that. With a lot of respect to a lot of good players, we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor."

A bit harsh, Bill. 

For what it's worth, here's Khalil Mack's 2018 projection, assuming his latest ankle injury doesn't make him miss time: 

20 sacks, four interceptions, 16 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries

That's .5 sacks less and four INTS, 16 FFs and 4 recoveries more than LT had in his 1986 MVP season. And yeah, maybe "they didn't record tackles/fumbles in 1986" and "16 forced fumbles would not only blow the current record (10) out of the water but is just plain unrealistic" but whatever, we're just sayin'. 

UPDATE: shocker, LT agrees: