So, what's the motivation for a football program like West Aurora's, which is coming off its best season in 70 years? It's simple, really.
"We just want to be better than last year," said junior running back/linebacker JaQuan Buchanan. "We have to come back tomorrow and work hard."
Those should be frightening words for future Blackhawks opponents as West opened the season with a 46-3 win at Yorkville, with Buchanan leading the way with 4 touchdowns.
"People don't know about him, but I tell you what, they'll figure it out," said Blackhawks coach Nate Eimer. "He's the real deal."
Buchanan opened the scoring with a 1-yard plunge to cap West's first drive of the season, and before the night was over he would add a 20-yard touchdown catch from William Tammaru and 5- and 57-yard scoring runs, all in the second half. Buchanan finished with a game-high 161 yards rushing on only 11 carries.
As a team, the Blackhawks (1-0) rolled up 368 yards on the ground, with Camron Donatlan, Hezekiah Salter, Trevon Tittle and Kameren Moore all running for more than 35 yards, but it was the sophomore Tammaru's 122 yards passing that put a twinkle in Eimer's eye.
"They packed the box against us after what we did last year, but we showed we could throw the ball," said Eimer. "That will help open things up even more four our running game."
After Buchanan's first score, the Foxes (0-1) answered with Cade Henry's 35-yard field goal to make it 6-3 just 5 minutes into the game. Trailing 20-3 after Rhadarious Lomax and Moore added scoring runs for the Blackhawks, Yorkville did have a chance to get back into the game late in the first half when Evan Fisher blocked a punt, but the Foxes couldn't cash in a drive that began at the West 23. Quarterback Ty Liaromatis did roll up 96 yards rushing, with consecutive runs of 28 and 30 yards at one point, and the Blackhawks didn't help themselves with 60 penalty yards in the first half, but the Foxes were unable to dent the scoreboard again.
Buchanan's three second-half touchdowns gave West a 39-3 lead with 7 minutes to play before Salter capped the scoring with a 46-yard gallop at the 2-minute mark.
"I take the view that one year has nothing to do with the next," said Eimer of the inevitable comparisons that will be made with last year's 9-1 squad. "The kids are confident after last year, that helps, but we just have to keep pushing forward and we've got a lot of work to do."