Through a week of hype and distraction, Wheaton Warrenville South's football team maintained the primary goal of focus.
The Tigers, however, also wanted to put on a show.
In a game broadcast live nationally on ESNPU, WW South hammered Maine South 44-7 in Friday's showdown between defending Class 7A and 8A champions at Red Grange Field.
Scoreless after a quarter, the Tigers (2-0) rolled off 17 second-quarter points - capped by Brian Welker's last-second 32-yard field goal to end the half - and added 20 third-quarter points to build a stunning 37-0 lead.
A nifty 16-yard shovel pass from University of Illinois-bound quarterback Reilly O'Toole to Titus Davis made it 44-0 and put the running clock in motion with nine minutes, 44 seconds left in the game.
"Coach (Ron Muhitch) wanted to put up some points against this team," said Davis, who also caught a 41-yard touchdown pass. "He wanted to show ESPN that Illinois football is no joke."
O'Toole completed 16 of 23 passes for 223 yards and 3 touchdowns while running back Matt Rogers had 22 carries for 100 yards and 3 scores. WW South's defense also dominated, forcing 3 turnovers - interceptions by Caleb Bednarz and Jack Eshleman and a fumble recovery by Casey Armbrust - and notching 5 sacks.
The Tigers avenged two prior losses to the Hawks, who are 0-2 for the first time since 2006. WW South lost 27-9 in last year's regular-season game and fell to Maine South in the 2004 Class 8A semifinals.
"We kind of had this game marked on our schedule since last year," O'Toole said.
Maine South actually had the game's first major scoring opportunity when Rocco Marchiori intercepted O'Toole and returned it to the Tigers' 7-yard line. On the next play, however, Will Davis forced a fumble and Armbrust recovered it to give the ball back to WW South.
Eleven plays and 86 yards later Rogers put the Tigers ahead 7-0 on a 1-yard run. O'Toole added a 12-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Crowe and Welker nailed the field goal as WW South went to the half leading 17-0.
"Maine South came out here and we knew they were going to be a great opponent," Rogers said. "We just capitalized off of our defense. It was awesome."
Bednarz returned the opening kickoff of the second half 89 yards to set up Rogers' 2-yard scoring run. A short field led to another 2-yard Rogers touchdown just two minutes later.
The lead grew to 37-0 on O'Toole's first touchdown pass to Davis. Maine South scored with 3:19 left on Paul Preston's 1-yard run.
"We got pumped with ESPN, and I think we prepared well during the week," Bednarz said. "We both came ready to play, but we just came out on top."