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."

McDonald's All-American Games return to United Center

McDonald's All-American Games return to United Center

The McDonald's All-American Games return to the United Center for the seventh consecutive year on Wednesday night as the nation's elite boys and girls high school basketball players take the floor.

The 40th annual games begin with the girls game at 4 p.m. while the boys game will follow at 6 p.m.

The 2017 McDonald's game won't have a lot of local talent to keep an eye on, besides Chicago native and center Brandon McCoy, but the national Class of 2017 is still a fun group to check out for local basketball fans.

Headlined by top prospects like small forward Michael Porter Jr. (Missouri), center DeAndre Ayton (Arizona),  center Wendell Carter (Duke) and point guard Trevon Duval (uncommitted), this year's McDonald's game features a lot of flashy guards, high-flying wings and talented big men.

Over the years, fans at the United Center have been able to see some of the NBA's best young players before they went to college as alums of recent McDonald's games include Anthony Davis, Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Karl-Anthony Towns.

You can view the full rosters for the 2017 McDonald's All-American Games here

Why the Bears finally feel like they're in striking distance of a winning team

Why the Bears finally feel like they're in striking distance of a winning team

PHOENIX – Where the relationship between Bears GM Ryan Pace and coach John Fox goes beyond 2017 remains to play out with their third season together. At this point, however, despite a combined total of nine wins over their first two, the critical bond between coach and general manager appears both clear and solid.
Which is no small state of affairs with the growing pressure on both and the organization, pressure that will only intensify if the on-field fortunes of their team does not begin to dramatically reverse. And both know it. Losing doesn't build character, it reveals it, and the same applies to a relationship; if there are cracks, adversity of the kind the Bears have endured the past 32 games will widen and expose them.
That relationship has been the subject of speculation virtually since its inception, when Pace hired Fox following the end of his tenure with the Denver Broncos. Much of it centered around who was in fact making the final decisions on personnel and who was the advisor, with some positing that Fox was in fact the final authority if only because age, seniority and experience. The primacy of Pace, however, has become clearer with each decision and traces or shadings of any fractiousness are conspicuously absent.
"His people skills are tremendous," Fox said Tuesday during the NFL owners meetings. "His evaluation skills are very good. I think humility is always a great quality in this business. And I've seen that. He's the same guy. He hasn't changed. Sometimes people get [elevated] positions, whatever position that may be and they change. It's just how some people react. And I haven't seen that."
Pace, who recently turned 40, is by his own description wanting buy-in on decisions. In the cases of free agency, which have involved the high-dollar commitments designed to have immediate payoff, he has identified pro targets and involved Fox in the decisions.
Looking for an immediate hit at linebacker to upgrade the entire defense about this time last year, Pace targeted Denver leading-tackler Danny Trevathan. Fox was his first consult.
"Just having drafted [Trevathan] and seeing him develop and get better and his work ethic and his preparation and study habits and how he is as a teammate in the locker room," Pace said of what insight Fox provided. "Those were all things that were taken into consideration."
This year, with the max need of improvement, the franchise-grade decision was to make a change at quarterback. Jay Cutler effectively made the decision on himself and he was out. Whether Mike Glennon is or is not an upgrade will play out this year, but Fox was involved in and endorsed the decision to go in a decidedly less-experienced direction.

[RELATED - No signs Bears are locked into drafting a QB in 2017]
Pace had attempted in the past to trade for Glennon, which Fox agreed with. Fox had familiarity with Glennon from his time coaching in Carolina.
"I was in North Carolina when [Glennon] was playing [at N.C. State], actually," Fox recalled. "I was exposed to two guys there. A good friend of mine was the head coach at NC State. Both Russell Wilson and Mike Glennon were coming through at that period in time, so I got exposed to them, watching games and kinda following them.
"And obviously evaluating both of them coming out, they were in different schools then. So I had a high opinion of them then. And then really [Glennon] was talked about a little bit before this year as a potential guy to get, and then this year, being free and without any kind of compensation, we dove in pretty good and feel good about it."
Most expectations are that the Bears will not repeat a three-win season, and that an improvement from the first two years keeps both Pace and Fox in their jobs. Key players (Trevathan, Eddie Goldman, Kyle Long, Kevin White) returning from injuries, free-agency upgrades on both sides of the ball and a draft class currently with two picks in the first 36 point to perhaps the kind of turnaround Fox has produced (in years two) at Carolina and Denver.
Fox did not dwell on what the roster was or wasn't when he arrived, or on how much of an overhaul Pace needed to do when he took over from Phil Emery and brought in Fox to replace Marc Trestman. But the reality was there.
"Going back to a lot of the changes, we've had a lot of change," Fox said. "I think we're better for it. Unfortunately, you can't walk around with your chest out about that because of our record the last two years. But I have total confidence and [Pace] has done an outstanding job and will continue to.
"I understand you have to win. And I finally feel like we're in striking distance."