No. 7 Glenbard West plots return to prominence behind ‘special’ offensive line

Glenbard West’s Joey Pope enjoyed the Hilltoppers’ roll to the Class 4A basketball state title, but he thinks it’s time for the focus to return to the gridiron.

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Glenbard West’s Chris Terek completes a drill during practice.

Glenbard West’s Chris Terek completes a drill during practice.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

Football Saturdays at Glenbard West’s Duchon Field are special occasions. But the spotlight last school year shifted up the hill to the basketball gym.

Glenbard West running back/safety Joey Pope enjoyed the Hilltoppers’ roll to the Class 4A basketball state title, but he thinks it’s time for the focus to return to the gridiron.

‘‘It was fun watching the basketball team last year, but hopefully we are back to being a football school again this season,’’ Pope said.

Glenbard West was 8-3 last season and lost a lopsided game to Lockport, the eventual Class 8A state champion, in the second round of the playoffs.

That would be an excellent season for most teams, but much more is expected in Glen Ellyn. The Hilltoppers scored plenty in their victories last season, but they struggled offensively against top-tier teams.

‘‘We were pretty young and inexperienced,’’ Pope said. ‘‘There were nine juniors starting on offense. It was kind of simple mistakes, like fumbles and interceptions and stupid turnovers. This year we will cut that out. We’re taking care of the ball.’’

Pope has the luxury of running behind the biggest offensive line in Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet’s 16 seasons.

‘‘Our offensive line is just really special,’’ Hetlet said. ‘‘When you have all the pieces back, that’s a big deal.’’

Wisconsin recruit Chris Terek (6-6, 295 pounds) anchors the line.

‘‘We’ve been down for a few years and just not like our normal selves,’’ Terek said. ‘‘This is definitely going to be a statement year for us.’’

Terek is joined by Brady Cavan (6-0, 240 pounds), Jack Baer (6-2, 225 pounds), Luke Gadomski (6-4, 230 pounds) and Jack Anderson (6-3, 235 pounds).

‘‘They open up holes,’’ Pope said. ‘‘I see it in practice. It’s exciting. They’re all my buddies, too, so it is nice to be able to run behind people that I trust so much.’’

Korey Tai returns for his second full season as the starting quarterback. Keep an eye on tight end Filip Macoroski. The 6-4, 200-pound senior made big plays last season and has impressed in practice.

‘‘We didn’t utilize [Macoroski] as much as we should have,’’ Pope said. ‘‘You are going to see him blossom.’’

Five starters return on defense, led by linebackers Jack Oberhofer and Ben Starman. The Hilltoppers will need some players to step up on the defensive line, but Hetlet’s defenses are traditionally strong.

Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet watches a drill during practice.

Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet watches a drill during practice.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

‘‘Our weight room was shut down during COVID, even last summer,’’ Hetlet said. ‘‘Every school had different rules. It impacted us last season because we develop our program kids into players. We didn’t come into the season like Glenbard West. A lot of times, ‘B’ team players as freshmen become varsity starters. That’s not an excuse, it’s just the truth.’’

The Hilltoppers open the season with a tough game at Marist. The schedule is challenging overall because the West Suburban Silver, which Glenbard West traditionally has dominated, has become stronger in recent years.

‘‘We controlled the conference for a number of years, and it didn’t happen the last two years,’’ Hetlet said. ‘‘Last year we put ourselves in a position to be conference champions, and Hinsdale Central and York just flat-out beat us. They wanted it more than we wanted it. I think our kids are hungry for the conference title and that respect level.’’

Glenbard West schedule

Aug. 27 at Marist
Sept. 2 at Downers Grove South
Sept. 10 vs. Oak Park
Sept. 16 at Proviso West
Sept. 24 vs. Addison Trail
Sept. 30 at York
Oct. 8 vs. Downers Grove North
Oct. 15 vs. Lyons
Oct. 22 at Hinsdale Central

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