From an attendance and atmosphere standpoint, the 2006 Class 6A state semifinal playoff game between Batavia and Geneva set the shock-and-awe benchmark in the teams’ celebrated rivalry.
Geneva athletic director Jim Kafer estimated the crowd for that game at about 6,000, with temporary seating and standing-room fans about doubling the normal, 3,000 seating capacity of Burgess Field. While heavily anticipated, Friday’s showdown between the teams in Geneva might not quite hit the 2006 fever pitch.
Kafer said “I would predict less than that 6,000, but probably not a lot less than that.”
“My first thought would be that it would be less than  because that game was a final four game and had a tremendous amount of hype with it,” Kafer said. “This game, both teams have big games remaining after this, so while a lot of people peg it as the conference championship game already, we’ve got Streamwood still undefeated and both teams still have to play them, not to mention two other games, so that part might diminish interest a little bit.”
On the flip side, the fact that both 5-0 teams are undefeated – not even the 2006 regular season or postseason meetings could make that claim – and the preliminarily favorable Friday forecast should fuel turnout. Kafer said temporary seating totaling about 1,500 capacity will be brought in, two sets of stands on both the home and visitors sides. There will be no ticket presale; tickets will go on sale at 4:15 p.m. Friday, and extra ticket-takers will be on duty Friday night. The game is among three finalists for NBC-5′s Prep Destination of the Week. Online voting will determine whether the Geneva-Batavia game, Antioch/Lakes or Shepard/Eisenhower will be the site of NBC cameras for a live Friday morning pregame segment. Voting is taking place on the NBC 5 News Today Facebook page, with a deadline of noon on Wednesday.
Let the hoopla begin.
“I know we’ll be talking to Jim Kafer and he’ll have a good plan for the fans and things,” Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. “I’m sure it will be highly watched, big crowd, a big night. It will be a lot of fun for the people in these communities.”
Saints brace for stretch run
St. Charles East coach Mike Fields experienced immediate success with the Saints, snaring an Upstate Eight title in his first season, but the past two years have been a much different story. The Saints’ 43-7 loss at Batavia on Friday ensured a second straight sub-.500 season for East. Fields said it will be “a process” to build toward the consistency he is looking for in the program, with increased offseason participating playing a leading role.
“We’ll get there,” Fields said. “We’ve got a lot of pride, we’ve got a lot of tradition at St. Charles East, and I’m so proud to be there. I feel bad for the seniors because they’ve played so hard and they’ve not quit. I’m so proud of those kids for just hanging in there and staying with it. “I’ve told them, we can finish this thing strong.”
A bright spot for East continues to be the play of junior linebacker Joe Hoscheit, who saw more offensive touches than usual on Friday with fullback Jacob Bruce out (illness). Hoscheit caught three passes, including East’s lone touchdown on a 12-yard, fourth down reception from Charlie Fisher, and he also took a direct snap on a fake punt for a first down.
“Joey’s just a heck of a talent,” Fields said. “When he was in there, the kids were telling me [the Batavia defense] were screaming ‘Hoscheit! Watch Hoscheit, watch Hoscheit!’ “That’s what you get, but we’ve got to have more than just Joey, though. We’ve got to have more weapons than we had.”
And then there were two
One of the most striking statistics of the season’s first month was that five of the six Northern Illinois Big 12 East teams were 4-0 through four weeks of the season. That total dwindled to two after Friday’s games. Kaneland and Morris remain unblemished at 5-0, while Rochelle dropped its first game against Kaneland, Yorkville lost to Morris and Sycamore was defeated in overtime in a crossover contest against Sterling.
IN THE GROOVE
Jake Ruddy, Marmion, Jr., RB What he did: Ruddy scored on a fourth-and-goal rush from the 1 to give Marmion an early score against Immaculate Conception on Friday, then reeled in an 18-yard touchdown catch from Charlie Faunce as the Cadets beat the Knights, 28-20.
Matt Lindsay, Wheaton Academy, Jr., WR What he did: Lindsay caught seven passes for 188 yards and three touchdowns on Friday as Wheaton Academy earned its first win of the season, 41-14, against Chicago Christian. Quarterback Drew Decker was on the other end of the connections.
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LAST WEEK
It will be a second straight season without playoff football in St. Charles, as both East and North drooped to 0-5 on Friday. The North Stars would need to win out to hit last year’s 4-5 mark, while the Saints need to take three of their last four to match last year’s 3-6 record. North seemingly has a better shot to break into the win column first, with struggling Elgin on tap. East visits 5-0 Streamwood on Friday.
WHAT WE’LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
If St. Francis has any better luck taming Montini than Aurora Christian did. The reigning 5A state champion Broncos scalded the previously unbeaten Eagles, 55-14, on Friday, and will take on another local Suburban Christian Conference program this week when the Spartans (4-1) come calling.