After West Aurora took a pair of early leads, South Elgin showed the Blackhawks the value of team speed.
The visiting Storm gave a tough welcome back to the Upstate Eight Valley for West Aurora, pulling away in the second half for a 62-27 rout.
Five South Elgin reached the end zone, including three touchdowns by Kyle Ware, as the Storm scored on seven of their first eight possessions.
Of all the Storm skill players, running back Shawn Griffin stood out. The 5-8, 175-pound junior feasted on sweeps, getting out in space and proving difficult to corner. He scored twice in less than four minutes of the second quarter and amassed 184 yards in only 13 carries. He had 156 yards and two touchdowns by halftime, at which point the Storm led 34-20.
Griffin’s highlight came on a 65-yard jaunt on a sweep that put South Elgin up 27-13.
“All week we’ve been preparing, watching a lot of film of their defensive schemes,” said Griffin. “I loved the blocking. It’s the biggest part of the game.”
Co-starring with Griffin was quarterback Hayden Nelson. The 6-1 senior was almost perfect, completing 11-of-12 passes for 236 yards and three TDs in only three quarters of work. Two of Nelson’s scores went to Andrew Kamienski totaling 95 yards in the third quarter, when the Storm put the game away.
When Nelson wasn’t throwing precision passes, he ran for 44 yards and a score.
“We were clicking on all cylinders,” Nelson said. “I think I’m going to have the offensive line over for breakfast. They were pancaking people.”
South Elgin (2-1, 1-0) racked up 596 yards of offense. Led by Griffin, the Storm rushed 34 times for 360 yards and six TDs against a Blackhawk unit that was a couple steps slower.
“Our coaches tell us to go out and work hard, and to go after every play like it’s the last play,” Kamienski said.
West Aurora (0-3, 0-1) started strong in its first Upstate Eight conference game since 1997. DaQuan Cross scored on a 17-yard run and David Williams caught a 7-yard pass from Johnathon Doyle to put the Blackhawks up 13-6 after 12 minutes.
But a scoring catch by Derek Kumerow, two Griffin runs, and a Nelson keeper put the Storm in control by halftime.
“Their players made plays and ours didn’t,” West Aurora coach Nate Eimer said. “That’s the most embarrassing loss in my four years here, and our seniors and captains need to step up and play like leaders.”
Ware scored in three different quarters and ended up with 116 yards on only seven carries. The Blackhawks were led offensively by Tarshma Jackson, who rushed for 82 yards a score.