GLEN ELLYN – Lincoln-Way East relied on another great defensive effort to help it roll to a 45-0 win at Glenbard West in Saturday’s second round of the Class 8A playoffs.
The Hilltoppers (8-3) have a storied program with three state championships, including one over the Griffins in 2012.
“They’re a very good team,” Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet said. “I guess you don’t really know their tempo is as fast as it is until you really play them. They’re well-coached. It’s a special group of kids they have right now over there. I don’t think people quite understand that their strength lies in what they do defensively.
“When you can’t move the ball … I know their offense is good, but their defense is ridiculous. They are very impressive defensively. You’re going to have to be a special kind of offense against this group of kids. They have a lot of speed and interiorly, it’s hard to move them around.”
The Griffins (11-0), who posted their seventh shutout of the season, with all of those coming in their past nine games, host Edwardsville in next week’s quarterfinals.
Griffins defensive lineman Dylan Shelton’s first sack of the game ended the Hilltoppers’ first drive and forced a punt, which the Griffins converted into a Dominic Dzioban 31-yard field goal.
East made it 10-0 with 10:57 to play in the second quarter when quarterback Jack Baltz found tight end Jackson Ritter in the end zone with a 28-yard touchdown pass.
Griffins’ running back Devon Williams scored the first of his three touchdowns with 8:33 to play in the second quarter on a 23-yard run.
East linebacker Gus Christensen intercepted Glenbard West quarterback Jarrad Park and the Griffins needed only six plays to punch in another touchdown, a 1-yard run by Williams, to make it 24-0.
Glenbard West put together its best drive on its next possession. The Hilltoppers marched down to the East 32 before Shelton and linebacker Jacob Kramer forced a Park fumble, which Kenny Palmer returned 70 yards for a touchdown that made it 31-0 with 17 seconds to play in the second quarter.
“I have to give all the credit to our D-Line, forcing [Park] to scramble,” Palmer said. “And obviously, No. 92, Dylan Shelton, for forcing the fumble to begin with. At first, I saw it bounce. I had to make sure I had the ball and once I had it, I just started running. I kept thinking to myself, just don’t get caught. It was insane [getting into the end zone].”
Dzioban kicked it high and short on the ensuing kickoff. The Griffins recovered on the Glenbard West 29 with 15 seconds left in the half. On the next play, the Griffins ran a reverse with AJ Henning, who took it 29 yards to make it 38-0 with five seconds left.
The Griffins made it 45-0 on a Williams’ 4-yard-run with 8:52 to play in the third quarter. East’s first-team defense held Glenbard West to four first downs, and the Griffins forced a third turnover: a fumble in the third quarter that linebacker John Cooke recovered.