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Defense keys Glenbard W.'s win over WWS

WHEATON, Ill. – Glenbard West’s Tommy Schutt delivered a message on the opening play of Sunday’s game against Wheaton Warrenville South.

With the snap, Schutt, a Penn State recruit, ran over Wheaton Warrenville South’s offensive tackle and quickly came up on Tigers quarterback Thaddeus Armstrong. From Armstrong’s blind side, Schutt flew into him and sent him crashing to the ground.

“That was one of the biggest hits I’ve ever seen,” Glenbard West linebacker Andrew Larkin said.

Schutt and his defensive mates were relentless from the start, leading No. 3 Glenbard West to a 21-7 road win over No. 2 Wheaton Warrenville South on national television on Sunday.

The loss snapped Wheaton Warrenville South’s 27-game winning streak. It was also the Tigers’ first home loss since Oct. 31, 2008.

Wheaton Warrenville South had been a thorn in Glenbard West’s side the past few years. The Tigers ended Glenbard West’s season in 2009 in the Class 7A state title game and in the 7A quarterfinals in 2010.

Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet didn’t downplay the significance of his team’s victory.

“This is Wheaton South at Red Grange (Field),” Hetlet said. “You don’t beat them here. You just don’t beat them here. I don’t care what you say. It’s one of the best programs in the country year in and year out, great coaching staff. You just don’t beat them here.”

Wheaton Warrenville South had plenty of chances to continue its winning streak. The Tigers recovered four Glenbard West fumbles and began in the Hilltoppers’ territory on three of those instances. But only once was Wheaton Warrenville South able to capitalize.

With Glenbard West leading 7-0, the Tigers were given a gift to open the second half. Glenbard West quarterback Justice Odom lost his grip on the ball, and Wheaton Warrenville South defensive end Mark Rooney recovered it on the Hilltoppers’ five-yard line.

On four consecutive running plays, Glenbard West stopped Wheaton Warrenville South from reaching the end zone and kept its lead.

“That’s something we preach a lot throughout the week of practice is facing adversity,” said Schutt, who missed most of the fourth quarterback with cramps. “The offense turns the ball over; the defense has to step up. We did. That was a great stand.”

Glenbard West had its own share of offensive struggles until the fourth quarter, when senior Avery Balogh began to find his groove. Balogh rushed for a 31-yard gain that led to a 2-yard touchdown run by Joe Zito with 9:07 left in the fourth quarter, and later scored himself with 1:45 remaining on an 18-yard scamper.

The game featured nine plays of 10 or more yards, and Balogh accounted for three of them. He finished with 108 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries.

“It felt great to get the ball after I blocked for a great running back last year in Nick Burrello, who is at Harvard now,” Balogh said. “It just felt great to finally get my chance and take advantage of it.”

Wheaton Warrenville South pulled within 14-7 with 6:31 left when Dan Vitale, a Northwestern recruit, found a hole up the middle and rushed for a 22-yard touchdown. The Tigers were stopped on their next two possessions.

Vitale was one of the few bright spots for the Tigers’ offense, rushing for 45 yards on 12 carries and catching six passes for 25 yards.

Wheaton Warrenville South coach Ron Muhitch thought the game came down to Glenbard West’s dominant defense and his own team’s lack of experience.

“Credit to Glenbard,” Muhitch said. “They played tough defense. They played aggressive, tough defense. Chad told me, ‘We’re not going to back off because you got a new quarterback,’ and that’s exactly what he should have done. That’s exactly what they’re good at.

“I struggled to call a play today. I really did. Because every play that we called, somebody had a run-through or a scheme mistake. We practiced it, but I’ll be honest with you, you can’t practice lack of experience. All junior line, new quarterback, basically new offense, and I thought it showed.”

Odom connected with Max Bruere for a 12-yard touchdown in the first quarter to give Glenbard West a 7-0 advantage.

Michael Marston and Larkin had interceptions for Glenbard West.