Football coaches often preach the necessity of success in all three phases of a football game -- offense, defense and special teams. Friday night, West Aurora proved how important it can be to have success in some areas while it takes other facets to kick into gear.
The Blackhawks defeated nonconference opponent Waukegan 40-0, a score line that looks dominant, and in many ways it was. However, the hosts struggled early offensively early in the contest and needed defense and especially those often-overlooked special teams to take control and give the offense time to get rolling.
"Offensively, we weren't really good early tonight," West Aurora coach Nate Eimer said. "We had holding calls, and that's an example of not being ready to go. But it's a three-phase game, and our special teams were outstanding and our defense was outstanding."
West Aurora's special teams stood tall from the opening kickoff, on which they forced a fumble. Lesiron Tittle recovered at the Waukegan 18 and the offense needed 4 plays before JaQuan Buchanan scored. On the ensuing kickoff, West Aurora forced another fumble and Tittle again recovered. This time, the Blackhawks failed to score, but the defense forced Waukegan (0-2) to punt after three plays and this time West Aurora did move down the field and scored on a Kameren Moore 12-yard run around right end.
"(Tittle) made some huge plays for us today," Eimer said. "We moved him to linebacker from quarterback. He's real energetic and he helped create a huge turnaround. Those were huge plays."
For the game, West Aurora's kickoff team forced and recovered 3 fumbles while the defense never came close to allowing Waukegan to score. The visitors managed only 75 yards offensively.
Meanwhile, West Aurora's ground game found its feet, ultimately accounting for 367 of the team's 422 offensive yards in the contest. Those yards were spread around too -- 11 Blackhawks carried the ball. Trevan Tittle was the leading groundgainer, netting 125 yards and scoring 1 touchdown on 9 carries. The touchdown came early in the third quarter on an 80-yard run shortly after the Blackhawks had recovered their third fumble on a Waukegan kickoff. Hezekiah Salter was also dominant, scoring twice and gaining 94 yards on 8 carries.
"It's always a great feeling to come out here with your team and win the game and get big plays both ways," Salter said. "It was just a great game all the way. We have a lot of great running backs on the team and we had a great running game tonight."