June 02, 2023
Sports - Kane County

Sports - Kane County

Tigers a tough task for Vikings in second round

Geneva running back Jay Graffagna escapes a tackle and heads upfield during Saturday’s IHSA Class 7A first-round playoff game against Shepard.  The Vikings face Wheaton Warrenville South in the second round. Jeff Krage – For the Chronicle

GENEVA – Geneva senior running back/safety Michael Santacaterina said he planned to devote “a good couple hours” Monday night to devouring film of the Vikings’ opponent in the second round of the IHSA Class 7A playoffs.

Wheaton Warrenville South, a six-syllable school from the vaunted DuPage Valley Conference, has become something of a four-letter word in the minds of its opponents each week. Geneva players have grown increasingly aware of the Tigers’ explosiveness and now must scheme how to handle an opponent that wins games by an average score of roughly 43-7.

“Every team comes in with athletes, two or three or one or here or that,” Geneva coach Rob Wicinski said. “Usually, if you zone in on the athletes and say, ‘Hey, if we stop that quarterback, we’re going to have success. Stop that tailback, stop that one wideout.’ Now there’s just a bunch of them and you can’t do that.”

Like Geneva, Wheaton Warrenville South enters Friday’s 7 p.m. game at 9-1 with a conference championship in tow. Wicinski compares the teams’ offenses and recent histories but does not hesitate to call his team the underdog or raise his eyebrows at the Tigers’ track record, which includes a 61-6 drubbing of St. Laurence in the first round last week.

Rallying around dual-threat quarterback Riley O’Toole, Wheaton Warrenville South also tallied 61 points against West Aurora the week before to close the regular season and has not scored less than than 35 points since defeating Naperville Central, 24-8, in Week 4.

Scouring various newspapers and online message boards, the Vikings quickly took note.

“During the year, you really focus on your conference, but you do kind of look around and see how other teams are doing,” Geneva senior right guard Justin Craig said. “Everyone knows Wheaton Warrenville is a powerhouse. We knew that every year like this.”

Santacaterina called the Tigers “a very beatable team” as Geneva wound down its Monday routine of lifting, jogging and getting introduced to that week’s opponent on film.

“It just gets our mind fresh, kind of clears everything out from weeks past,” Craig said. “It’s total focus on this week. You think about the whole week ahead and get ready.”

Compared to past ones, there will be plenty to prepare for.

Kevin Druley

Kevin Druley for Shaw Local News Network

Kevin Druley is a freelance writer for Shaw Local News Network who covered sports for the Kane County Chronicle from 2008-16