AURORA – Dan McGuire made an emotional return to his hometown Friday night, Sept. 30.
But the Yorkville defense made it a much more palatable return for its head football coach in Aurora.
Before the Southwest Prairie Conference West football game, which Yorkville captured 10-0 to become playoff-eligible for a fourth consecutive season, West Aurora honored the memory of Jim McGuire.
The elder McGuire, a legendary football and track coach forms entire 38-year teaching career with West Aurora schools, passed away on Independence Day.
“Jim was my [freshman football] coach,” said West Aurora coach Nate Eimer, who was in ninth grade when Dan McGuire was a West Aurora senior in fall 1997. “He was a great man. He was one of the reasons I’m doing what I”m doing – and Danny’s following in his footsteps. [The Foxes] are one of the top defenses in the state.”
“I thought West Aurora was classy in everything they did,” McGuire said. “For them to do a moment of silence for an opposing coach and his family was beyond the call of duty. I think my dad would have been real proud of the way the school and district handled this tonight. It was a physical, physical game; not much scoring. He would have liked that.”
After West Aurora (1-5, 0-2) escaped first-half interceptions by the Foxes’ Bobby Gonzalez and Gage Range, Luke Zook scored the game’s only touchdown on a third, costly turnover.
Following a scoreless first half, Zook rumbled 37 yards on the Blackhawks’ opening third-quarter possession to give Yorkville all the points it would need.
“I was playing 15 yards off [the line of scrimmage], in the middle of the field,” said Zook, a sophomore safety. “The [wide receiver] on my side ran a hitch. I was looking right at him. I came up and made a play on the ball.”
The Foxes feature a fearsome front four.
In addition to the three forced turnovers, the Yorkville front trapped West Aurora quarterback Gino Martino an equal number of times for 31 yards in losses.
Yorkville (5-1, 1-1) limited the Blackhawks to 3 yards rushing on 15 attempts
Colorado State-bound three-year starter Andrew Laurich had the most important of the Foxes’ quarterback traps as his late second-quarter sack – three plays after Martino connected with Michael Williams with the longest play of the game, a 60-yard catch and run – knocked the Blackhawks out of legitimate scoring territory.
“Three picks – that will explain itself,” said Laurich, who collaborated with fellow linemen Andrew Zook, Jake Davies and Amani Kortie to wreak havoc. “All four of us were getting pressure on the quarterback. We were tiring out the offensive line.”
The Blackhawks promptly drove the length of the field, only to see the Foxes stiffen once again.
Eimer eschewed a fourth-down attempt at the Foxes’ 10-yard line in favor of a field-goal try.
But the awkward angle proved too much for the Blackhawks’ placekicker.
“We were trying to get some points there,’ Eimer explained. “That was the rationale.”
The Foxes’ Hudson Fiene added a 37-yard field goal in the waning moments to ice the game, as Gio Zeman, who returned after a two-game absence, carried the bulk of the Foxes’ ground attack with his 131 yards on 25 punishing carries.
West Aurora denied the Foxes twice on fourth down deep in their own territory during the fruitless first half as Mason Rogers was the Blackhawks’ defensive standout.
Martino carried the Blackhawks’ offense with his 161 yards passing on 15 completions.
Williams finished with 87 yards in receptions. Derrion Jordan had a pair of catches for 33 yards.