Glenbard West

Offense wins IHSA football games...defense wins championships

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NBC Sports Chicago

Offense wins IHSA football games...defense wins championships

Every once in a while I come up with a decent idea for our weekly @NBCSPreps live Twitter segment— like this week's topic: “What are the top defenses that are still alive in the IHSA state playoff field?”

However, sometimes these "great" ideas become a bit harder the longer you look at them. This was definitely the case with this week's segment. 

While we only are allowed to list 13 teams for consideration for these segments (due to space restrictions) I came up with at least a handful of other teams who also could make the final cut of what was shown on the big board. 

Look, any team that makes it to the second round of the playoffs is good and they, more than likely, have a good defense. 

But in my mind, it's much more than just points allowed that separates the very good from the great defenses. 

For me, a great defense is a mindset. It's an attitude. A swagger. And they’re all present in that unit's play for each down.

An example? 

Warren Township’s entire defense plays with a mindset and a mentality that they are going to destroy everyone in front of them. And over the past two years in particular, in more cases than not, the Blue Devils defense has succeeded. Sure, Warren has also has its share of marquee names, starting with Iowa State commit DT Willis Singleton Jr., senior LB Juan Delacruz and junior LB Malachi McNeal. That said, the unit as a whole here is simply stronger than the individual parts. 

There are several other top teams left in Class 8A that are right there with the top defenses across the state. Take Loyola. 
The Ramblers also take on that same mindset and the personality mentioned above. Loyola coach John Holocek has a defense that, year in and year our, keep them in every game this season. The consistency over the years has been something to behold.

Lincoln-Way East head coach Rob Zvonar just seems to reload year in and year out with a brand new group of talented, speedy and highly intelligent kids on the Griffins‘ defense. Of course, having elite talent helps. East features two D-1 defensive ends in Adrain Wilson (Bowling Green) and Sean McLaughlin (Northwestern). The remainder of the Griffins’ defense is more kids who are simply  blue collar types— unheralded names who just show up and grind week in and week out. 

Then there is Glenbard West. Chad Hetlet's defense is nicknamed “The Hitters.” What else do you need to know? The Hitters play with a combination of speed and physicality you just don't see very often. When Hetlet's defense performs to his lofty standards, you can guarantee football in Glen Ellyn well into late November. 

While South Elgin (9-1) is still searching for respect from a rankings standpoint (keep those emails and DM's coming, fans) and while head coach Dragan Teonic teams have been more known for having a wide open offense, the Storm's defense in 2019 has been equally as strong than the offense. If you allow just 45 points in 10 games like the South Elgin defense has, I couldn’t care less about the teams you’ve played. Your defense is exceptional. 

In Class 7A alone you have teams such as Phillips, Mount Carmel, Willowbrook and Lake Zurich who all feature terrific defenses week in and week out. In Class 6A, while downstate Glenwood (10-0) has an offense that seems to get the hype, did you realize that the Titans ‘D has allowed just 105 points in 10 games so far this season? 

We can debate this all day and night long and that's fine. But all I know is that teams with the best defenses will be holding first place trophies on Thanksgiving weekend at NIU. 
 

53 Days to Kickoff: Glenbard East

53 Days to Kickoff: Glenbard East

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Glenbard East

Head coach: John Walters

Assistant coaches: Kevin Kane (RB), Tony Bartolotta (OL), Joe Cristina (WR), Jim Walker (DL), Tiff Hamilton (DL), Jeff Cherry (LB), Maurice Mason (OLB), Dennis Lueck (DB), Matt Lahey (DB) and Bruce Fisher (Def asst)

How they fared in 2017: 3-6 (3-2 Upstate Eight Conference). Glenbard East failed to qualify for the 2017 IHSA state playoff field.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:
Aug. 25 vs Elgin
Aug. 31 @ Bartlett
Sept. 8 vs West Chicago
Sept. 14 vs West Aurora
Sept. 22 @ South Elgin
Sept. 28 @ East Aurora
Oct. 5 vs Streamwood
Oct. 12 @ Glenbard South
Oct. 19 @ Larkin

[MORE: 93 Days to Kickoff - West Aurora]

Biggest storyline: Will the Rams benefit from the newly-aligned Upstate Eight conference this fall?

Names to watch this season: QB Bret Bushka and LB Anthony Shockey

Biggest holes to fill: The Rams have a few key spots to fill (RB/DL); however, with 13 returning starters back in the fold (six offense, seven defense), this is a good group for Glenbard East in 2018.

EDGY's Early Take: Despite their 3-6 record, the Rams were pretty competitive in most of their games last fall. They used the season to get several underclassmen serious playing time. It will pay off come August. They will also benefit this season without the likes of Batavia, Geneva and the St. Charles schools on the regular season schedule. Glenbard East has the chance of becoming a nice story and a state playoff caliber team in 2018. 

Dream on? Some fantasy-like HS matchups could become a reality

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Dream on? Some fantasy-like HS matchups could become a reality

With two more weeks left until the IHSA state playoffs, here are some fun dream matchups to consider.  I would love to see some of these happen-- and in some cases, a few of these actually have a chance to occur.

Homewood-Flossmoor vs East St. Louis: The 8A Vikings, coached by Craig Buzea, have a ton of playmakers. They feature a speedster in NIU-bond senior RB Justin Hall; plus, their speed and athleticism on both sides of the football is eye-catching. As for East St Louis, the Flyers (Class 7A) also have a ton of talent and speed including senior dual-threat QB Christian Perez and a big, very physical offensive line. This would be an excellent back-and-forth game-- a possible 'last possession wins' type of finish.

Marist vs Lincoln-Way East: Both 8A schools could very well see each other on the IHSA playoff road. Coach Rob Zvonar's Griffins feature one of the state's top defensive lines, built around senior Northwestern commit Devin O'Rourke. They also have a strong running game and good overall depth. Marist, under first-year head coach Ron Dawczak, also boasts a fantastic defensive line led by Indiana commit DE Gavin McCabe and Minnesota pledge Elijah Teague. The Redhawks' offense can beat you with the run and the pass. QB Mike Markett, RB Delonte Harrell and a ton of quality receivers are helping Marist rack up nearly 45 points per game. I'd pay to see these two teams compete in any postseason playoff round.

Barrington vs Huntley: It's another matchup that could potentially happen in 8A this postseason. How much fun would it be to see both do-it-all quarterbacks (Barrington's Ray Niro and Huntley's Eric Mooney) battle each other for four quarters?

[MORE: Edgy Tim's Week 8 Power Rankings]

Maine South vs a Rochester/Sacred Heart-Griffin CO-OP team: Since 4A perennial power Rochester and 5A-sized Sacred Heart-Griffin are both smaller than Maine South (from an enrollment standpoint) I'd allow a CO-OP for both schools here. How wild would a combined Leonard Family-led team be? Maine South has great balance on offense with QB John O'Sullivan, NIU commit RB Fotis Kokosioulis and a ton of quality receivers. Team Leonard's offense would undoubtedly be equal to the task. 

Glenbard West vs Loyola: Sort of like Godzilla meets Godzilla? Both Loyola (8A) and Glenbard West (8A/7A bubble team) pride themselves on defense first, but both are pretty diverse on offense as well. How cool would this be: two of the top overall programs in Illinois over the past decade going head to head? We can only hope. 

Lake Zurich vs Prairie Ridge: It's the unstoppable force (6A's Prairie Ridge offense with QB Samson Evans) against the immovable object (The 7A Lake Zurich defense). The matchup between the Bears' offense, which has opened up considerably under first year head coach Luke Mertens, against the Wolves' speedy and hard-hitting defense could potentially be just as impressive. 

Phillips vs Peoria: Peoria (4-3), the defending 5A state champs, seem headed to 6A. Of course, they would have to qualify for the state playoff field first. Phillips, the 3A/4A-sized school voluntarily moved up to 5A for the next two seasons. How would the Wildcats defense contain Peoria's offense, led by Illinois commit QB Coran Taylor and company?