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7A Championship: Lincoln-Way East Football Stopped by Glenbard D

Glenbard West 10, Lincoln-Way East 8: Henry Haeffner's first-half passing helped the Hilltoppers build an early lead and their defense stopped the Griffins time and again in the second half.

The 7A state football championship came down to the final second, but it ended like it started for Lincoln-Way East and quarterback Tom Fuessel. He was battered by the tough Glenbard West defense to end the game.

His counterpart—Henry Haeffner—completed 10-of-13 passes for 145 yards and one touchdown in Glenbard West’s 10-8 victory over Lincoln-Way East. Haeffner stole the offensive spotlight in the title game at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.

Haeffner threw a 25-yard scoring pass to Nathan Marcus with 2:30 left in the first quarter. Hayden Lekacz added a 27-yard field goal as the Hilltoppers (14-0) extended their lead to 10-0 at halftime.

See a full box score for statistics and drive summaries on IHSA

Glenbard West turned to its defense to bottle up Lincoln-Way East's Tom Fuessel as the Hilltoppers wrapped up their first state championship since 1983 and handed Lincoln-Way East (13-1) its first defeat.

Fuessel, a Northern Illinois University recruit, spent much of the game running for his life. He was harrassed into a 3-for-14 passing performance for 51 yards. And he was unable to squirt outside of the pocket in scramble situations.

Fuessel was limited to 17 yards rushing on 21 carries. He was sacked five times for losses totaling 30 yards.

"Well, he's the best player in the state of Illinois, based on the film I've watched," Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet. "I've seen some very good players. We've played against some very good players. But as far as an offensive weapon, I think he's got to be the best in the state.

"And, no, we don't change. We've been pretty good defensively. A sound defense is going to beat a great player. And those kids believe in that. They're going to play sound defense. He's going to make his plays.

"We just knew when he dropped back to pass that's when he's the most dangerous on his scrambles. We had to keep him in front of us and just be relentless in our pursuit and stay true in our coverage behind."

Lincoln-Way East closed to within 10-6 on a 35-yard touchdown run by Justin Corbett in the third quarter. The Griffins' defense forced three turnovers, including two second-half fumbles, and put East in position to pull out the victory in the waning moments.

Kyle Langenderfer's fumble recovery set up East with a first-and-10 on the Glenbard West 47 with 5:25 remaining. The Griffins moved to a fourth-and-10 on the 13.

Fuessel looked toward his tight end, then scrambled right. He raced toward the sideline and was rocked by Glenbard West's Hayden Carlson on a head-over-heels hit that knocked both players silly. Fuessel was stopped at the 6—3 yards short of the first down and 6 yards short of a winning touchdown.

"He's a winner—a champion," Lincoln-Way East coach Rob Zvonar said of Fuessel. "That's how he's been all year. That's how he played (against Glenbard West). Coming up 1 yard short on a play at the goal line doesn't tarnish the season. We're disappointed. It hurts (now).

"But Tom Fuessel's a champion—as well as the rest of the guys in this senior class and the rest of his teammates."

Glenbard West took over after Fuessel was stopped short with 3:35 left. The Hilltoppers ran the ball three times. Then, Haeffner purposely ran out of the back of the end zone and took a safety.

The Hilltoppers kicked the ball back to Lincoln-Way East clinging to a 10-8 lead. Lekacz's kick went out of bounds and the ball was spotted on the Hilltopper 45 with 23 seconds left.

Fuessel threw two incomplete passes and was sacked and knocked out of the game by Marcus. The game ended with Fuessel's cousin, Brett, taking the final snap for the Griffins. He was flushed from the pocket and pulled down by Glenbard West's Ruben Dunbar after a 2-yard gain.

"Heartache and disappointment are part of athletics," Zvonar said. "But the sun's going to come up tomorrow. God still loves us. And I think my wife and kids will too. These guys are champions. And we love them."

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Sue A. Wolf November 25, 2012 at 08:06 AM
Lincoln-Way East is a great team and can be proud of it!!!!! Great season guys. You can be proud.
DR- Mokena November 25, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Lincoln Way East can be proud of the season, however they were truly outcoached by the Glenbard team. Why Zvonar chose to try a fake punt late in the first half inside their own 50 is beyond me, and it's a move that most coaches down by only 7 points would never try. The 3 points Glenbard scored after that "mastermind" was the difference in the game as it turned out Tom Fuessel had a nice season, but he's not a true quarterback as the game showed and as his stats showed. Nice runner.....but he tried to do way too much, particularly in the first half with his scrambling which led to few yards by him in a very inbalanced offensive attack. Wait till next year again.
SeanO November 25, 2012 at 02:28 PM
I agree with Pepper. Clearly #18 had all the signs after the helmet to helmet unprotected hit which drew the penalty. After laying motionless, he returned to his feet only to have a teammate hold him up to prevent him from stumbling backwards. The TV replays were all over it. Im a GW grad with GW kids and was totally disgusted, the win irrelevant to me. And shame on Matt Bowen not saying anything as well. A previous patch article on concussion prevention appears now to be just pandering if not outright lying by the LW athletic director.
osr November 25, 2012 at 02:40 PM
I'm a Hitter not a Griffin and I agree. Your coach asked too much of single player. It seemd like you dressed 200+ kids, use them! QB, running back, punter my word. Don't break Fuessel before he gets to NIU he's a great athlete. In a defensive game field position is everything. Why he did not punt more escapes me. We struggled to move the ball too. The delay of game penalty on a fake punt should haunt coach Z.
Skippy Pbutter November 25, 2012 at 04:19 PM
HS Football Fan... Let not forget the IHSA officials who did nothing... to protect #18 while in an obviously vulnerable condition. You need to remember a kid like #18 will never take himself out of that game, until the IHSA officials are on par with standards like NCAA and the NFL, the coaches will leave it unfortunately up to the players...
CS November 25, 2012 at 05:20 PM
The comments above were obviously from individauls that never played this great game at any level. The LWE offense is based on " QB reads" ---- that fake punt was just one of their read calls. Sometimes they work--- sometimes they dont work. And they were very close to the first down-- right? Out Coached? Tommy scores on that last drive ---- LWE wins, but a great play stopped him. Right? Two great teams, with great individual players--- including Tommy as a great QB, and great coaching staffs. Stop the critical comments and complment these two great teams on a tremendous season------- the only sad part is one had to lose. To the GBW team, coaches, fans---- Congrats! To my LWE Team, coaches------- Congrats and Thank You for your hard work, personal sacrifices. I am proud of you all!!! Happy Holiday Season-- on to wrestling and basketball! Father of an LWE Player
Jethro November 25, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Few Questions : 1) Why does Zvonar leave in an obviously dazed and hurt player? The GW Defense put an end to a great athletic season by punishing the QB time after time. LWE had no answer for it and it looked sad to allow him to continue on to take a beating with no changes in plans . The GW Defense played incredible all day and layed hits ( one illegal) on Fuessel that took that spark and quickness away from him. It was obvious he did not want to carry the ball the entire 2nd half after getting hit so hard time after time. 2) Who " Fakes" two punts in a championship game with a " punter" 10 yards deep? 3) Why did no one take care of Fuessel as he lay devastated on the ground in agony after the game ? You would have thought they could have consoled him and not allowed that terrible and sad scene to happen. The kid gave his all and was just left alone to cry laying on the ground. LWE defense played Great but the Glenbard West Defense effort and scheme was superior from the Coaching, Planning , Effort.. something that LWE seemed very unprepared for in this game. It appeared the LWE coaches thought they could just roll out the football for Tom Fuessel and have him do the backyard type broken run plays to bail them out. Glenbard West hit and hit and hit and hit again and took the steam out of the LWE Plan. The LWE O Line also met their match as they could not run the ball and certainly failed to protect Fuessel on the biggest High School Stage.
Landmark Flooring November 26, 2012 at 12:01 AM
We watched the game on cable and all we can say is WOW! Very proud of the teams performance but our heart goes out to the QB on that last scramble. Not sure who you are but your effort was first class kid. Hold your head high and good luck down the road!
DR- Mokena November 26, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Jethro...great call on the game and your comments. I agree 100% with you and it's what I was stating earlier in my comment. The first half play calling was horrible and Fuessel looked like a rabbit being chased by a pack of foxes. As far as CS comments go...being that he is a father of a LWE player...well he needs to take off his rose colored glasses. This is also not the first time that Zvonar has been out-coached by his opponent and won't be the last.
Done November 26, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Coach Zs Record-- speaks for itself 115-24, never missed the Play-offs, one state chamionship, two appearances enough said little boys
Thomas Smistson November 27, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Zvonar does have an impressive record and I think he is a great coach but that doesn't negate the play calls on Saturday. As a coach he has a responsibility to make good judgement calls to put his team in the best position to win. The previous record doesn't help this years players. The fake punt at the end of the half will go down as one of the worst calls in championship history. 4th and 4 then you get a delay of game penalty, so now it is 4th and 9 from your own territory, and you snap to punt formation and tryto get the first so you really have 19 yards to get against one of the best defensive teams in the state. And if you get the first down there is no guarantee you have enough time to get in scoring range anyways. You gave GW the field goal at the end of the half which ended up being the difference in the game. If you punt there you are attempting a game winning 25 yard field goal on 4th down instead of Fuessel getting stopped short. In a defensive battle field position is everything.
DR- Mokena November 27, 2012 at 05:23 AM
Hey Done......Zvonar's record is what it is...but far from Coach Lenti of Mt. Carmel. Just check how many trophies they have in their trophy case. Zvonar can't win the big game.
LWE Fan November 27, 2012 at 03:47 PM
I agree 10% with that assessment ...worst call I have ever seen. It really changed the entire strategy of the entire game.
LWE Fan November 27, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Really don't know if that was an error on the kickers/QB right to read and react or if that was actually called by the coaches. It may be a case of a player trying to do to much. I would have to say though that in my experience that would have to be called....you cant give him that option in that position. Either way it put history in motion.......I would hope you would learn from this. Doesn't help this years team though.....they don't get the ring they wanted so bad.
LWE Fan November 27, 2012 at 10:18 PM
I'm going to have to ask why a team like Elk Grove Village and Libertyville could score......(I know Wheaton North was shut out because of mud bowl)...did the offensive coaches watch any of their film?......I mean cmon already.....they had no answer..... didn't even try a lot of things that worked early in the year. They didn't use a lot of plays....what were they saving them for?...next year? I think the offensive game plan needed to contain something other than Tommy Left...Tommy right. When they did that they were successful. Sometimes you have to hold the reins on the horse a little to slow him down......make him realize he has other tools out there. I put most blame on coaching here for sure..................
MR NC November 27, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Football is more than X's and O's... Coach Z and his entire staff work hard with young student athletes and mold them into fine young adults. Anyone from this area who has ever had the pleasure of knowing him over the past 20 years is better off because of it. Look around and count your blessings...

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