WHEATON, Ill. -- Wheaton Warrenville South senior Reilly O’Toole hesitated when asked whether he was surprised by the margin of victory in the Tigers’ 44-7 win over Maine South on Friday.
His mind began processing the answer. There was the politically correct response -- yes, he was shocked to beat a team he respects by so much. And then there was the likely truth -- no, it’s what he expected.
When O’Toole spoke, his answer fell somewhere in the middle.
“Um, kind of,” O’Toole said. “I thought we could beat them. I knew our defense would limit their offense because our defense is just awesome. Offensively, we really stepped up from Week 1 to Week 2. I thought our offensive line took a huge step.”
The lopsided victory ended a memorable week for No. 1-ranked Wheaton Warrenville South (2-0). From ESPN broadcasting the game, to Nike’s presence in the school, to a pregame speech from Mike Ditka, to Bears tight end Greg Olsen roaming the sidelines, to finally defeating the lone squad that had beat the Tigers last year, there wasn’t anything else they could have asked for.
“This whole week I’ve just been excited with a smile on my face,” Wheaton Warrenville South senior Matt Rogers said. “Our whole thing was ‘no fear’ and embrace it. Thrive off all the people here and thrive off the energy and block out all the extra stuff.”
Rogers’ smile stayed with him throughout Friday. He provided much of the Tigers’ offense against the Hawks, rushing for 94 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries.
O’Toole, an Illinois recruit, did much of the rest. He completed 18 of 25 passes for 230 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He hooked up with Titus Davis for touchdowns of 16 and 41 yards and also one with Ryan Crowe for 12 yards.
While the game got out of hand in the second half, it was Maine South (0-2) that almost jumped on Wheaton Warrenville South first. Maine South senior Rocco Marchiori picked off an O’Toole pass at the Tigers’ 40-yard line and returned it all the way to the 7 midway through a scoreless first quarter. Just as the Hawks were looking to put the game’s first points on the board, Maine South quarterback Matt Alviti fumbled the ball on the first play and Wheaton Warrenville South senior Casey Armbrust recovered it.
The Tigers took advantage of the gift. They drove 86 yards on 13 plays and capitalized with a one-yard touchdown run by Rogers. They would add one more touchdown and a 32-yard field goal by Brian Welker before halftime to go ahead 17-0.
Maine South’s offense struggled throughout the game. It picked up 59 yards in the first half and only scored in the fourth quarter with the Tigers’ first team sitting out.
“Our defense is outstanding,” Wheaton Warrenville South coach Ron Muhitch said. “Our defense is quick and built for that. It always has been at this high school. We’re defensively very quick and [it’s] an athletic group of kids. What a great opportunity to display that on national TV.”
For Maine South, it was a difficult game to swallow. After winning 28 games in a row and back-to-back state championships, the Hawks have begun the 2010 season with two losses.
“I thought we came ready to play,” Maine South coach David Inserra said. “The boys were focused. They knew what they had to do. I think we’re going to be a good enough team. Right now, we’re not a good enough team to make those mistakes. We’re going to have fight for everything this year. We’re going to try and coach them up.”
Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.