Glenbard West football games are major events in Glen Ellyn. The community turns out in force on Saturday afternoons, relishing the traditions and the setting that makes their school special. Winning is a major part of it all, the Hilltoppers’ ultra-successful football program takes a back seat to just about no one.
That’s why Saturday’s 7-0 win over Mount Carmel in the second round of the Class 7A state playoffs was such a special moment for Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet, his players and the capacity crowd: the Caravan was one of the programs that still towered above the Hilltoppers.
“The kids knew this was a program game,” Hetlet said. “To beat a team like Mount Carmel in the playoffs, that doesn’t happen often.”
The first ever meeting between the two powerhouse teams was a slugfest, fought in the trenches of the lines. Glenbard West missed a field goal in the second quarter and Mount Carmel missed one in the third quarter.
The Hilltoppers finally broke through with 1:49 to play in the third quarter. Running back Sam Brodner scored a 16-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-6 play.
“You could see the tides turning in our running game,” Hetlet said. “Our whole offensive line was winning the battle.”
Mount Carmel (8-3) had a golden opportunity to tie the score with 4:05 left, but quarterback Anthony Thompson couldn’t connect with Steve Wirtel on a fourth-and-goal play from the 3.
“One of the backs went the wrong way, and he would have been wide open,” Mount Carmel coach Frank Lenti said. “That’s high school football. I think our kids gave it their all.”
Glenbard West got the ball back and went to the well. Brodner run after Brodner run slowly broke the backs of Mount Carmel. The Hilltoppers (11-0) picked up a trio of first downs and ran out the clock. The Vanderbilt recruit finished with 31 carries for 148 yards.
“We seemed to break their will at the last drive,” Brodner said. “We were all just going crazy, we were just hyped up. When you are in that situation where you can beat a team like Mount Carmel it’s a great feeling.”
Glenbard West quarterback Brian Cochrane played his usual mistake-free, confident game. He was 10-for-14 for 114 yards.
“Brian can throw the ball, there were a couple other passes we could have completed but we had some drops,” Hetlet said. “Brian showed composure and poise.”
Chrystian Maciorowski was his favorite target, catching four passes for 44 yards.
“(This week) was crazy,” Brodner said. “Coach Hetlet told us not to believe the hype. We tried not to look at all the hype, all the media. We just watched film on them, how they do things.”
Mount Carmel quarterback Anthony Thompson, a Northern Illinois recruit, was 8-for-20 for 66 yards. Two second-half interceptions in the red-zone (by Glenbard West’s Jackson Goleash and Kobe Easley) were crucial mistakes.
“We got inside the twenty four times and came away with nothing,” Lenti said. “We had opportunities to score touchdowns, we had opportunities to score field goals. We have to execute.”
Glenbard West will travel to Rockford Auburn for a quarterfinal game next weekend.
“As amazing as it was to watch Sam take the game over, and he did, it was amazing to watch that defense all day,” Hetlet said.
With the way Glenbard West’s defense played against Mount Carmel, and the dependable dominance of Brodner, the Hitters seem to be heavy favorites to win the Class 7A state title. But even if that doesn’t happen, Saturday is a day that will be remembered for a long time in Glen Ellyn.
“Mount Carmel has been a dominating program for who knows how long,” Brodner said. “It’s great to beat them, it’s a great team win.”