Glenbard West survived a shaky start Saturday afternoon, and then rode their ground game to a 41-7 homecoming victory over the West Suburban Gold's Addison Trail (3-3, 3-0) at Duchon Field.
The Hilltoppers (6-0, 3-0) ran for 334 yards on 42 attempts. Nick Burrello led the way with 150 yards and on 23 carries. The senior's 80-yard touchdown scamper midway through the third quarter widened the lead to 27 points and virtually guaranteed Glenbard West an undefeated record heading into Friday's marquee West Suburban Silver matchup with York (6-0, 4-0).
In addition to the homecoming festivities, numerous penalties and injuries dragged the game on late into the afternoon.
"It feels like it's Sunday," Glenbard West head coach Chad Hetlet said after the game. Personal-foul calls reached double-digits and Hetlet was often arguing with referees. "That was the worst officiated game I've ever seen in my life—on both sides."
The officials could hardly be blamed for Glenbard West's early struggles, which kept the game close for much of the first half.
The Hilltoppers opened scoring late in the first quarter when senior quarterback Mike Matthew—on fourth-and-3—hit sophomore tight end Nathan Marcus for a 45-yard touchdown pass.
Their next three possessions, however, ended with a three-and-out, an interception, and a fumble, respectively. The interception, thrown by Matthew, turned into seven points for Addison Trail when quarterback Trevor Berminham's tossed a 22-yard touchdown pass on the following play to make the score 7-7.
"We started slow," Hetlet said, crediting the Addison Trail defense. "They were bringing the house to stop the run."
But midway through the second quarter, things quickly turned the home team's way.
After an Addison Trail three-and-out, sophomore running back Kendall Johnson burned the Blazers defense for a 61-yard touchdown run with 7:23 left in the half. Addison Trail fumbled on the ensuing kickoff and Matthew made them pay immediately with a 42-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Mark Hiben with 7:06 remaining.
Matthew would leave the game due to injury on the Hilltoppers' next drive, but senior backup Daver Glawe kept the ball rolling with his own touchdown pass to Hiben, a 20-yarder with 1:03 left to make the halftime score 27-7.
Matthew went 2-for-5 for 97 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Filling in, Glawe went 1-for-3 for 20 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
With a nearly non-existent passing game under Glawe, the second half belonged to Burrello. Both of his touchdowns and 137 of his yards came after the break.
"We came out in the second half with guns blazing," Burrello said. "The important thing was that we were playing free and having fun."
The Hilltopper defense looked stout throughout the game. It was the fourth time in six weeks that Glenbard West has held its opponent under 10 points.
"We flew to the ball really well," senior defensive back Mike Laning said.
Held under 120 yards, the Blazers offense was forced to punt on five of their first six drives and turned the ball over six times—three on fumbles and three on downs. The aforementioned special teams fumble made seven.
The defense was well-prepared according to Laning: "We had a clue of what they were going to do."
Burrello said the physical, penalty-laden game Saturday was due to the "target" Hilltoppers have on their back as an unbeaten team. With a visit to York coming up Friday, those back-targets will be shared.
Said Laning, "Hopefully, next week we're going to let loose."
Kick off in Elmhurst is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.