Waubonsie Valley football coach Paul Murphy stressed to his team the importance of closing out the regular season on a winning note.
Every victory the Warriors rack up down the stretch helps with momentum and a favorable playoff seeding.
Murphy's squad took that next step forward in a 68-0 win at East Aurora on Friday night and will have one more chance against South Elgin next week to shore up that playoff seed.
"Our goal now is to keep getting better and get ready for the playoffs," Murphy said. "These games our important for seeding position. At 7-2 we might get a home game, but at 8-1, I know we'll get a home game."
Waubonsie Valley (7-1, 5-1) started the scoring onslaught against East Aurora (0-8, 0-6) on its first possession, marching 57 yards in 10 plays, ending with a 5-yard touchdown run up the middle by Austin Guido. Guido finished with 6 carries for 38 yards on the drive.
A blocked punt by sophomore Hugh Griffin set up the Warriors' second touchdown. Dylan Warden connected with Dimitrius Gray, who caught the ball in the flat and ran 15 yards through the East Aurora defense and into the end zone.
Waubonsie Valley's punt return unit came through again on its next appearance as a partial block by Joe Lobraco placed the ball at the East Aurora 16-yard line. Three plays later, Warden threw his final completion of the night, a 2-yard fade route to Brandon Malby for a 20-0 lead.
An interception by Jim Delaney gave the Warriors offense field position inside the red zone for a third straight possession. Four plays later, Matt Salvo scored his first of three touchdowns on the night on a 3-yard run, giving Waubonsie Valley a 27-0 lead as the first quarter ended.
"The offense started out slow, but we realized we had to treat this like any other game, so everyone picked up their tempo," Salvo said. "Everyone got fired up on the sideline and realized what needed to be done."
A 15-yard touchdown run by DeMario Webb and a 19-yard scamper by Salvo came in the second quarter, along with a 50-yard fumble return into the end zone by Zack McCabe. But the first-half scoring wasn't finished yet.
The punt return unit struck again, this time on a 55-yard return by Malik Spikener with 3:23 left in the half, putting the Warriors up 54-0 at the midway point.
East Aurora advanced to midfield only once in the first half on a 40-yard kickoff return by Laquan Brown.
"We were able to stay healthy and play a solid football game," Murphy said. "Our goal was to get to seven wins. Now we can go for eight wins next week."