Loss could serve as wakeup call to Glenbard West, Diver
The Glenbard West football team has ruled the roost in Class 7A football in the state of Illinois.
The team had won 32 straight conference games and was the defending state champion. The Hilltoppers also entered it last game with a 30-game regular season win streak.
But all that came to an end Sept. 24 as Lyons Township came to Duchon Field and stunned the Hilltoppers 28-14.
Glenbard West, though, is not ready to call it a season. It was a wakeup call.
“We we did not go down without a fight,’’ Ryan Diver, junior running back, told the DuPage Policy Journal. “All of the guys on the team gave a great effort but we just failed to make plays at key moments. It was an emotional loss for many of the guys on the team since it was the first time the senior class had lost in their high school careers.’’
Diver said the team is going to learn from the loss and it brought the team closer.
"Everyone is anxious to get back out on the field, work out the kinks, and prepare for our next opponent, Hinsdale Central,’’ Diver said. "The streak was something to proud but it we paid no mind to it. No one ever mentioned it. We just focus on our next opponent and being 1-0 each week.‘’
The loss was a costly one as Glenbard West lost senior linebacker Eric Sumata to a dislocated elbow for two weeks.
But that was not the most serious injury. Senior running back and leading rusher DJ Ficarella tore his MCL and PCL and will be lost for the season.
That’s going to put more pressure on Diver, who considers Ficarella to be his mentor.
‘’He receives the most amount of carries and is a key part of the offense," Diver said. "His injury was heart-breaking to me. It’s hard to see a great friend, leader, mentor, and role model go down like that."
Diver said he will use the setback as motivation.
"I know that I am going to be playing with a chip on my shoulder for DJ," he said. "This new adversity is going to be something hard for the team to overcome. It’s going to take hard work both mentally and physically but I know it is nothing that we cannot handle together."
Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet told a Chicago media outlet, "Two captains, two guys who did everything in the offseason 100 percent. Hopefully it's not a bad prognosis for them. It's very sad for them, and for us as a football family it's discouraging.
Yet he tipped his cap to the opponent.
"You've got to give all the credit to LT," he said. "Great coaching, great effort. They just really did a good job of coming here and taking care of business."
Diver, meanwhile, said he is relishing the opportunity of possibly being the featured back.
‘’Having this role, I'm going to give it my all so I can take pressure of other players on the team,’’ Diver said. “I do feel extra pressure with this new role but I love playing under pressure because it always brings out the best play in me. I am indeed looking forward to it since it is great opportunity for myself to mature as a player. This all being said, I would not be prepared for this opportunity if it were not for the players and coaches around me.’’
The last time the Hilltoppers lost a conference game was the 2010 season finale to Lyons Township.