West Aurora wins 18th straight against East Aurora
The final verdict was almost an afterthought when Illinois' two oldest high school football rivals walked off the field at West Aurora.
In Upstate Eight Conference action, the Blackhawks' Hezzy Salter rushed for a career-high 190 yards and the defense and special teams forced 5 East Aurora turnovers.
But the West Aurora 51-0 victory was overshadowed by the uncertainty of the future between the storied rivals.
The programs met for the first time in the late fall of 1893, and the Blackhawks' 18th straight victory Friday night in the series extended the West Aurora career advantage to 66-48-12.
West Aurora, however, is leaving the Upstate Eight at the end of the current school year to join the Southwest Prairie Conference.
"Next year does not look good, based on what the Upstate Eight went with keeping it with 10 teams (Fenton is replacing the Blackhawks)," West Aurora AD Jason Buckley said of the possibility of keeping the football rivalry intact. "We're anticipating trying to keep open Week 1 in future years. We're going to make every effort to make it happen."
Nick Kukuc is in his first year at the helm at East Aurora.
"This is one of those things that is about community," Kukuc said. "It's bigger than a game. It's beautiful when (East-West) brings both sides of the community together. Right now it's really lopsided. (The Blackhawks) have really good coaches and really good athletes. This rivalry still has meaning. I know it does for us. Our kids were excited to compete down to that zero."
The teams have opposite records after West Aurora solidified its program-best fourth consecutive Class 8A playoff appearance in improving to 7-1 overall and in the league.
East Aurora fell to 1-7, 1-7 after picking up its first win of the season last week against West Chicago.
"I am feeling a lot better," Salter said after returning to the lineup last week in a 45-0 dismantling of Elgin. "It feels like I was never hurt (knee). I am a lot more explosive."
The Blackhawks amassed 359 of their 505 total yards in the opening half as Salter had touchdown bursts of 40, 54 and 15 yards.
Quarterback Will Tammaru connected with Rhadarious Lomax from 80 yards away as part of a 7-for-10 passing effort for 158 yards.
Running backs JaQuan Buchanan, Trevon Title, Isaiah Lowry and backup quarterback Logan Mont had the Blackhawks' other rushing scores.
Tittle, who restarted the game after his 5-yard run by kicking off, recovered one of four lost East Aurora fumbles on the play.
"Our coaches really push us hard in practice," Tittle said. "I just made a play out of nowhere."