GLEN ELLYN, Ill. -- Patience is necessary to be a wide receiver in Glenbard West’s offense, and senior Mark Hiben has understood that.
Hiben was a key target during last year’s playoff run and was touted as an emerging player by Hilltoppers coach Chad Hetlet during the preseason, but Glenbard West’s offensive philosophy this season has been the same as always. It’ll run the ball until it can’t.
With the rushing game achieving consistent success this season, there hasn’t been much reason to throw, leading to some quiet games for Hiben.
“I’ve just been waiting my turn all year,” the 6-4, 195-pound Hiben said. “Against a lot of teams we’ve been able to capitalize on the run game. I’ve been lying in the weeds waiting for my chance.”
On Saturday, Hiben’s opportunity finally arrived, and it was beyond what he could have ever dreamed.
Hiben caught 12 passes for a state-record 319 yards and scored four touchdowns in No. 11 Glenbard West’s 42-28 home win over No. 8 Lincoln-Way East in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs.
Hiben broke Hinsdale Central’s Pete Bylsma’s record of 317 yards that was set in 1971. Hiben’s four touchdowns tied for 15th in state history.
“He was it,” Hetlet said when asked to describe Hiben’s game.
As reporters surrounded Hiben afterward, he was astonished to hear his own statistics.
“Really?” he said. “It’s awesome. 319? It’s special. It’s special because as you guys probably all know Glenbard West is not known for its passing. Coach Hetlet just said to everyone, ‘I would never have thought in a million years that one of my receivers would have over 300 yards.’ ”
Hiben’s historical game started off slowly. His first reception was for nine yards. His second was for another nine. His third catch was for 18 yards.
Then, he took off. On the fourth one, Glenbard West (10-1) ran a halfback option to Justin Odom and Lincoln-Way East’s defense bit, allowing Odom to connect with a wide-open Hiben down the field. Hiben did the rest, sprinting in for an 84-yard touchdown.
On Glenbard West’s next drive, Hilltoppers quarterback Daver Glawe connected with Hiben for a 41-yard touchdown. Hiben followed that up with a 72-yard touchdown in the second half. Finally, he left his best for last as he leaped, reached over his defender’s back, and snatched the ball away for a 19-yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone.
“He has the best hands in the state,” Glawe said. “He’s just unbelievable in what he does. His routes are just awesome. He always just finds a way to get open. No matter what, Mark Hiben’s going to be open. Wherever I throw it, he’s going to get it. That one down in the end zone, I just gave him a shot and kept it in play, and you could see what kind of an athlete he is.”
Glenbard West had plenty of chances to put away Lincoln-Way East (9-2) throughout the game, but the Griffins continued to fight back. The Hilltoppers built a 21-3 lead in the first half, and Lincoln-Way East responded with 10 consecutive points.
Glenbard West went back ahead 28-13 just before halftime when Glawe threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Nick Burrello, but again Lincoln-Way East answered to start the second half. Quarterback Blake Winkler threw a 73-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Buchbach to pull within 28-20. Shortly later, Tyler Starke broke free for a 56-yard touchdown run, and the Griffins added the two-point conversion to tie the game at 28-28 in the third quarter.
Hiben scored the game’s final touchdown to finally put the game away.
“He’s an all-stater, and we knew that going in,” Lincoln-Way East coach Rob Zvonar said. “The problem is they have a whole lot more than just him. We knew who he was, and he’s been doing it for them for a couple years. He’s a great player, a great football team. They have weapons all over the field. They exploited us and took advantage of it.”
Glawe finished 13 of 24 for 269 yards and four touchdowns.
Lincoln-Way East kicker William Will made field goals of 22 and 40 yards.