Glenbard West got confident, now it has to get tough.
The Hilltoppers' confidence soared after the team beat Plainfield North, 51-12, on Oct. 30 at the beginning of the 7A state football playoffs.
But Round 2 of the playoffs will be more challenging as the No. 2 Hilltoppers face the physical No. 3 Lincoln-Way East. The game starts at 1 p.m. Saturday at Duchon Field.
Glenbard West head coach Chad Hetlet said the Griffins are a tough, physical team.
"They are one of the best programs in the state," he said. "They are well coached. We are going to prepare like it's a state championship."
Senior running back Nick Burrello is coming off an impressive performance by gaining 284 all-purpose yards and scoring four touchdowns against the Tigers. He said the Griffins' defense will be difficult to run against.
"They are a really good football team in stopping the run," Burrello said. "They are very physical at the point of attack. Everything starts with our o-line. Our line is the best line in the state. If we just get off the ball and the running backs run through the holes, we will be unstoppable."
The Hilltoppers' defense has confidence after holding Plainfield North senior running back Kapri Bibbs to a season-low 123 yards rushing on 19 carries and one touchdown.
Also, junior defensive lineman Tommy Schutt blocked two extra points, and Hetlet said the defense line as a whole played well.
Senior linebacker Justin Mesch, who had a 37-yard touchdown return on a blocked punt against Plainfield North, said the Hilltoppers' defensive aggressiveness has to continue.
"We need to keep the helmet on the ball," Mesch said.
Hetlet said the Griffins will be challenging, but his team has confidence after its convincing playoff victory.
"Lyons just took it to us after we have won 27 straight games in the regular season," Hetlet said. "We lost that fear of losing. We just got back to the grassroots stuff and remembering why we love the game. We have a little motivation."
The Griffins (9-1, 7-0 Southwest Suburban Conference) beat No. 6 Thornton 17-7 Oct. 30 and have an eight-game winning streak since losing 33-20 to No. 4 Wheaton North Sept. 3.
Lincoln-Way East junior quarterback Blake Winker threw 8-for-13 and 130 yards against Thorton.
Griffins' junior wide receiver J.J. Robertson had three catches for 69 yards and two scores Oct. 30 after returning from a ring finger injury.
The Griffins offense averages 37.6 points a game while its defense surrenders only 11.0 points a contest.
Last year, Lincoln-Way East lost to O'Fallon, 17-16, in the second round of the playoffs.
Despite these challenges, Plainfield North head coach Tim Kane said the Griffins will have their hands full Saturday.
"Glenbard West is a hard-nosed football team," Kane said. "I think they have a couple good running backs who do a good job. Defensively, they get to the ball quick."