It's hard to say what was more impressive about West Aurora's 40-2 blowout of host Waukegan at Weiss Field on Saturday, the final score itself or the fact it was exactly the result the burgeoning program has come to expect.
After making the playoffs last season for the first time since 1994, West Aurora is 2-0 for the first time since coach Nate Eimer's first season in 2011.
Not bad for an institution known as a basketball state power.
"This school wasn't known for having a football program, but we're turning it around and making something happen," senior linebacker and running back Davion Cross said.
West Aurora excelled in all three phases against Waukegan (1-1).
Offensively, the Blackhawks relied on their running game almost exclusively with junior Miles Tonielli subbing for starting quarterback Jacob Jankovsky due to injury. Eimer elected to run the ball on 42 of 43 play calls, resulting in 351 rushing yards and a 7.3-yard-per-carry average.
Tonielli's only pass? A 44-yard completion to DaQuan Cross to the 2-yard line that set up a touchdown a play later.
The workload was equally split among running backs. Senior Cionte Carter, a converted corner, had 6 carries for 98 yards, including touchdown runs of 27 and 40 yards. DaQuan Cross rushed only 9 times for 62 yards, but the senior scored 3 touchdowns on runs of 11, 2 and 2 yards. Senior Davion Cross had 9 carries, including a 33-yard scoring run that drew "ohhhs and ahhhhs" from the West Aurora sideline after he stiff-armed an opposing defender at the 20 and kept running.
Davion Cross also was a key component of West Aurora's dangerous special teams. He returned a second-quarter punt 70 yards to the 2-yard line, which set up DaQuan Cross' 2-yard touchdown run on the next play to make it 33-0 with 18 seconds left in the first half.
"I just get the ball and make magic happen," Davion Cross said with an ear-to-ear grin.
Defensively, the Blackhawks held the Bulldogs to 101 total yards by completely shutting down the running game. West Aurora limited Waukegan, which scored 31 points a week earlier in a season-opening win against North Chicago, to minus 40 rushing yards in 19 attempts.
"They didn't do anything we didn't expect," Waukegan coach Juan Anillo said. "They didn't surprise us with anything. We just didn't execute and we didn't play as hard, I feel, as we should have. Offensively, golly, we stunk it up. I'm embarrassed and just very disappointed in the boys right now. I'm disappointed in me. Their play reflects on our coaching, so we've got to do a better job coaching."
Other than a 25-yard burst early in the third quarter, no Waukegan running back gained more than 8 yards on a single play. The Blackhawks intercepted a Waukegan pass and forced 2 fumbles to win the turnover battle 3-1. One of those fumbles was a first-quarter sack and strip by DaQuan Cross, who, in turn, scored 4 plays later via an 11-yard run.
"At first I was just going to sack him, but he held the ball out so I just ripped it and tried to push him back," DaQuan Cross said. "
The Blackhawks have a short week to get ready for East Aurora and the longest-running rivalry game in Illinois.
"East-West, there's nothing like it," Eimer said. "East Aurora, this is one of the better teams they've had in a long time so we're excited."