Regardless of the end result, showed it can play with the big boys Friday night against Glenbard West.
The Red Devils (3-1, 1-1) jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and held a 17-7 advantage at halftime, but the Hilltoppers' 21-point second half was just enough to avoid a big West Suburban Silver upset and claim a 28-23 win in Hinsdale.
"We wanted this one so bad," senior Hinsdale Central quarterback Brian Owens said after the game. "These guys have been killing us for three years."
. This year's came down to the final minutes.
Owens completed 21 of 34 passes in the game for 286 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
Even after the Hilltoppers (4-0, 2-0) rallied off 21 straight points to turn that 17-7 halftime deficit into a 28-17 lead with 4:20 remaining in the fourth, Owens kept the Red Devils alive, completing 6 of 8 passes for 88 yards on a 10-play drive that ended with an 18-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver John Claussen with 2:49 on the clock.
The Red Devils missed two-point conversion, leaving the score at 28-23.
The Hinsdale Central defense forced Glenbard West into a three-and-out on the following possession, giving Owens and the offense the ball at midfield.
The Red Devils moved it down to the 27-yard line, but Owens' 4th-and-2 pass was tipped at the line and fell incomplete with 1:03 left.
Owens said these are the type of games you train for all offseason.
"You're representing this community, you're representing this school, and you're never going to give up on this field," he said.
Head coach Rich Tarka agreed: "We're going to fight for four quarters no matter what the score is.
"We knew it would be a dogfight like this."
The Hinsdale Central offense scored on its first two possessions, capitalizing on Glenbard West mistakes.
Junior receiver Ian Bunting caught a 25-yard touchdown pass on the Red Devils opening drive, three plays after an offsides penalty by Glenbard West turned a Hinsdale Central punt on 4th and 8 into a 4th and 3 they converted.
Junior Glenbard West running back Scott Andrews fumbled on the Hilltoppers next possession, giving Hinsdale Central great field possession that they turned into a 38-yard John Andrews field goal to go up 10-0.
Senior Hilltopper running back Joseph Zito got Glenbard West on the board with a 2-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, but Hinsdale Central back Jack Adams caught a five-yard touchdown pass with 26 seconds left in the half to put the Red Devils back up points.
The Glenbard West defense forced Hinsdale Central to punt away its two third-quarter possessions, and the Hilltoppers offense followed up both stops with touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Henry Haeffner hit senior tight end Nathan Marcus for a 41-yard score with 4:39 left in the third, and Andrews ran in from five yards out with eight seconds left to give Glenbard West's its first lead at 21-17.
"Those were huge," Glenbard West head coach Chad Hetlet said of the defensive stops. "That's a game-changer."
A one-yard quarterback plunge from Haeffner put the Hilltoppers up 28-17 in the fourth.
The Glenbard West quarterback finished 9-of-16 passing for 148 yards and one touchdown. Zito finished with 40 yards rushing on 10 carries; Andrews had 38 yards on 14 carries.
Hinsdale Central's Adams ran for 66 yards on 15 carries.