The Class 7A title game was one of the best matchups of the season. Undefeated Glenbard West and star running back Sam Brodner against undefeated Libertyville and star quarterback Riley Lees. Brodner and Lees are two of the state’s top talents, both are threats to score every time they touch the ball.
But the Wildcats decided not to play to the script Saturday at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb. Libertyville coach Mike Jones opted to utilize Lees’ arm more than his legs. The senior was impressive throwing the ball, but the Wildcats were unable to stop Brodner, so it hardly mattered.
Brodner, a Vanderbilt recruit, had 28 carries for 264 yards and four touchdowns as the Hilltoppers beat Libertyville 34-28.
“He was a load coming through the line,” Libertyville linebacker Riley Buncic said. “That’s obvious. It was tough to stop.”
Glenbard West (14-0) took the lead for good late in the third quarter. The Hilltoppers went for it on fourth and two from the Libertyville 9. The result was a touchdown pass from Brian Cochrane to Isaiah Skinner. It capped a nearly nine minute drive and made the score 27-21.
Lees, a Northwestern recruit, was 19-for-28 for 232 yards and four touchdowns. But two crucial interceptions in the red zone were killers.
“The second one I was trying to do too much,” Lees said. “I probably should have just thrown it away.”
Lees rushed just 12 times for 47 yards. Running back Noah Moderwell had 14 carries for 56 yards for the Wildcats (13-1). Those stats show how difficult it is to run against the Hilltoppers and back up Jones’ strategy to go to the air.
Lees spread the ball around to several receivers. Tim Calamari had 8 catches for 55 yards and a touchdown. Henry Schmidt caught six passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns and Cam Chaffer had five catches for 82 yards and a touchdown.
“I didn’t expect them to pass so much,” Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet said. “But I was happy with the way we contained probably the second best ball carrier in the state (Lees).”
Senior quarterback Brian Cochrane, always Glenbard West’s unsung hero, had another mistake-free game. He was 8-for-11 for 88 yards and a touchdown. Running back Isaiah Skinner had 16 carries for 88 yards.
“Our dreams came true today,” Glenbard West senior Chris Minnec said.
The Hilltoppers last state title was in 2012.
“My brother was on that team,” Brodner said. “I wouldn’t hear the end of it if we didn’t get it done.”