Chicago Cubs

Glenbard West holds off Lake Zurich


Glenbard West holds off Lake Zurich

Mike Clark

Glenbard West considers itself a run-first, pass-second team and that was literally the game plan on Saturday.

After Joe Zito ran for four yards on the first play from scrimmage, the Hilltoppers got a 73-yard scoring pass from Henry Haeffner to Nate Hokenson on the next snap.

"Nate Hokenson is one of the fastest kids in our conference," Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet said. "He's the fastest kid in our school. ... This was his moment to shine. We said, 'We're going to run that pass second play of the game come hell or high water."

The big play gave No. 1 Glenbard West a lead it never lost en route to a 19-13 win over No. 11 Lake Zurich in a Class 7A semifinal. The home game for Glenbard West was played at Glenbard South because of poor field conditions at the Hilltoppers' own stadium.

Haeffner threw another touchdown pass, a 22-yarder to Nathan Marcus just before halftime, and finished 9-of-14 for 156 yards as the Hilltoppers (13-0) showed another dimension on offense than the one they're best known for.

"I think we've known that we can throw all season," Haeffner said. "We don't really need to. We're a run-first offense all the way. "We all know that. I know that. The receivers know that. But if we need to throw, we'll do it."

The Hilltoppers also had a one-yard touchdown run from Devante Toney (20 carries, 73 yards) in building a 19-0 halftime lead. Scott Andrews added 66 yards on six carries, all in the first half, as he continued to deal with injury issues.

Glenbard West seemed on the verge of putting the game out of reach when Jordan Hassan recovered a Lake Zurich fumble inside the Bears' 20 early in the third quarter. Glenbard West had a first-and-goal at the Lake Zurich 7-yard line when the Bears suddenly came alive.

Grant Soucy recovered a Hilltoppers fumble and ran it back 95 yards for a score that cut the deficit to 19-6 at 7:05 of the third quarter.

"I had a caravan of white jerseys that I followed to the end zone," Soucy said. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime feeling."

The Bears scored on another fumble recovery to make it 19-13 late in the third This time Noah Allgood recovered a teammate's fumble and ran it in from two yards out.

"At halftime our mentality was not to make any mistakes and we made some," Haeffner said. "When we needed to secure the ball, we let it go. And that's something we need to work on."

But Glenbard West's defense forced a punt on Lake Zurich's next possession and got a takeaway on the Bears' final drive: an interception by Tyler Dayton with 2:00 left.

The Hilltoppers ran out the clock to earn a date with No. 4 Lincoln-Way East (13-0) in the Class 7A final next Saturday in Champaign. "To be honest, I think we started off a little too slow and it was ... too big of a hole to get out of," Soucy said.

The Hilltoppers held Lake Zurich to 28 rushing yards and 100 yards total. "Nobody's run on us all year," Hetlet said. "Those 11 guys on the field are as good as anybody in the state of Illinois against the run."

If Kyle Schwarber's back, the rest of the National League will have another reason to worry about the second-half Cubs

If Kyle Schwarber's back, the rest of the National League will have another reason to worry about the second-half Cubs

Kyle Schwarber’s proper introduction to the Cubs-Sox rivalry came in the summer of 2015 when a fan on the South Side threw a half-empty “tall boy” at him in left field. A little more than a year removed from college, Schwarber didn’t understand why someone wouldn’t finish all the beer first.  

David Ross chimed in, raising his voice loud enough so Schwarber and a group of reporters could hear him inside the visiting clubhouse: “You should have shotgunned it and then went over there and found him.

“I tell you what: I’d hate to try to wrap up Kyle Schwarber. I guarantee you that whoever threw that beer doesn’t want (any) part of Kyle Schwarber. I promise you that one.”

That was the rookie orientation before Schwarber: blasted five playoff home runs that October; suffered a devastating knee injury that almost wiped out his entire 2016 season; made a dramatic return to the World Series; and experienced newfound fame and fortune that would change his life forever.

Mess with Schwarber? That aura of invincibility is gone after his detour to Triple-A Iowa before the All-Star break. But the first-place Cubs will take Thursday night’s 6-3 win over the White Sox as another sign that he is almost back, yet another reason why the defending champs look ready to continue this second-half surge. 

“I told him that if he had a couple more push-ups in there, he would have had three homers tonight, but we’ll take a triple,” winning pitcher Jon Lester said afterward. “Schwarber’s been swinging the bat great since he’s been back.”

No doubt, the Cubs caught the sell-mode White Sox at the right time during the final days leading up to the July 31 trade deadline. Even in going 3-for-4 and blasting his 16th and 17th home runs – which traveled 814 feet combined at Guaranteed Rate Field – Schwarber is still only hitting .191 with 90 strikeouts in 79 games this season.     

But the Cubs have always given Schwarber the benefit of the doubt and will point to his big personality and encouraging numbers since his Triple-A reset ended on July 6, getting on base almost 37 percent of the time and hitting safely in 10 of 13 games with five homers, three doubles and that triple.

“Retrospectively, we should not have expected that much,” manager Joe Maddon admitted. “I’m guilty of that kind of a narrative or a dialogue also, because I was really eager to watch him play a full season of Major League Baseball.

“But the guy missed the whole season and did really well in a small window of time at the end of the year. So maybe my expectations exceeded what they should have been.

“I do believe he is that good. I do believe you’re going to come back and see him play at the level we anticipated. But he might have just needed more time. And we just didn’t recognize that.

“I might have been as guilty as anybody regarding the promotion of that. But I believe in him fully. I know it’s going to happen. There’s been some really good major-league hitters that have gone through the same thing.” 

At this point, the Cubs (54-47) would love to see what kind of wrecking ball Schwarber could be for a half-season. To his credit, Schwarber has been the same throughout all the ups and downs, someone who looks and sounds like a guy you would drink tall boys with.

“I just want to worry about putting the barrel on the ball,” Schwarber said. “I’m just trying to stay within myself, be short (with my swing) and it’s paying off.”

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