GLEN ELLYN – There were many restriction for high school athletes with the craziness of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While happy to be able to play any games this season, the Glenbard West seniors were unable to play on their home field – until Saturday.
The Hilltoppers got to play one final game on Duchon Field and made the most of it in a 48-28 victory over Oak Park-River Forest in West Suburban Silver play.
Glenbard West (3-1, 2-1) leaned on its run-heavy offense for six of its seven touchdowns in the win.
Jalen Moore finished his final game in black and green with seven carries – all in the first half – for 139 yards. His final two carries of his high school career both found the end zone.
“It meant everything to us to be able to play our last game on Duchon,” said Moore, who will play collegiately at the University of St. Thomas. “It’s a Hitter legacy to be able to play on this field and we’re glad we can leave our legacy with a win on this field for the final time.”
Moore had two memorable final touchdowns for the Hilltoppers. Moore first took on an OPRF (3-3, 3-3) defender one-on-one and lowered his shoulder to break a tackle and sprint to the end zone.
The second came in the unlikely situation of a carry on Moore’s own 20-yard line with under eight seconds to go in the first half. Glenbard West was trying to run out the clock and Moore saw an opening he wasn’t going to miss.
“My last game here, on this field, I saw the green [field] ahead of me and gave it my all and sprinted to the [end zone],” said Moore of his 80-yard score.
As a team, Glenbard West powered to 438 yards on the ground on 44 carries. Seniors Samson Zander (79 yards) and Luke Ford (46) each found the end zone on the first two Hilltopper possessions.
Zander, an Illinois Wesleyan commit, said he wouldn’t have had his last game go any other way.
“To end on Duchon, we wanted to make sure we had no regrets leaving the field today,” said Zander, whose first touch of the game was a 65-yard touchdown. “To get to play here, in front of our fans and families meant the world to us. We gave it our all today and this will be a day we never forget.”
“Not just to get to play our last game on Duchon Field, but to win it means everything,” said senior defensive back Will Sackett, who had one of Glenbard West’s three interceptions Saturday.
Oak Park-River Forest was led by wide receiver Jemari Smith-Payton, who finished Saturday’s contest with 10 catches for 84 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Jack Landis threw for 239 yards and three touchdowns in the loss.
Noticeably emotional when addressing the seniors and parents following Saturday afternoon’s game was Glenbard West head coach Chad Hetlet. Like most programs, his team went through a lot to complete this season, including two canceled games.
Through the grit and mental grind of this shortened season, Hetlet wanted his team to get a chance to walk down the hill and ring the bell one final time.
“It means everything,” Hetlet said. “I can’t express how proud I am of this group. They have missed out a lot of things because of COVID and it means everything for them to finish the season with a win, and get to do it on Duchon.”