ST. CHARLES – St. Charles North’s marching band performed such retro hits as Bon Jovi’s “Bad Medicine” and Journey’s “Any Way You Want It” as part of Friday’s 1980s revival halftime show.
The visiting team absorbing instructions over the music remained focused on merely flashing back to the 2011 football season.
Geneva earned its first 4-0 start since then with a dominating, 31-13 win against the North Stars, who entered the Upstate Eight Conference River Division showdown as fellow unbeatens.
Geneva (4-0, 2-0 UEC River) deflated North from the start, scoring a touchdown and field goal on its first two drives. Northern Illinois-bound Vikings quarterback Daniel Santacaterina started 6 for 6 for 89 yards and a score, backed by a defense that continues a solid run.
“We keep getting better week to week,” Vikings senior left guard Joe Wagner said. “We just bring the energy to work and just keep building on everything week to week.”
North’s defense braced for its stiffest challenge to date while touting an impressive resume of its own. Through three games, the North Stars (3-1, 1-1) allowed just 17 points, including a lone defensive touchdown against Planfield Central in Week 2.
Senior end Jordan Bergren, a recruit entertaining overtures from nearly a dozen schools, per North coach Rob Pomazak, sparked the ‘D’ behind his combination of size, skill and athleticism. Although he had his moments against the Geneva offensive line, Bergren and his teammates ultimately struggled to get consistent push against a Vikings front anchored by tackles Ben Baker and Loudon Vollbrecht.
Santacaterina enjoyed plenty of time throughout a seven-play, 63-yard opening drive, namely on the scoring play, a 17-yard touchdown pass to best friend Pace Temple on third down. Escaping pressure, Santacaterina rolled right and found Temple in the back of the end zone. The way Temple tells it, the Vikings attack drew early inspiration from North’s action on the opening coin toss.
“They deferred to start, and you know, we kind of take that as a shot at our offense,” Temple said. “We kind of got on edge, like, ‘All right, we’ve got to get it rolling.’ ”
About seven minutes later, Temple scored again after jumping North quarterback Kyle Novotney’s pass on the first play of the drive for a 32-yard interception return.
Temple added an 18-yard touchdown reception late in the third quarter, pushing the Geneva lead to 24-0 after the point-after. Beaming as he talked about Temple’s complete game, veteran Vikings coach Rob Wicinski called Temple “one of the better ones I’ve had.”
North broke through with its first touchdown with 9:38 to play, as Tyler Mettetal snagged a 15-yard scoring pass from backup quarterback Nathan Didier. Didier relieved Novotney early in the second half as the Vikings brought steady defensive pressure with Matt Loberg and Stephen Kemp up front.
“They’re too good of a team to kind of pin yourself in a hole, 10-0,” Pomazak said. “Lose field position, not execute, turn the ball over, you’re not going to win many games playing like we did today.”
Battling injuries to a handful of players, namely dangerous-when-healthy running back Dom Sidari (back), North struggled to move the ball consistently, although the defense still provided chances as Nicholas Zamecnik had two interceptions. Sophomore call-up Eric Lins got a healthy dose of carries as Pomazak favored a hurry-up offense for the early part of the night.
When the attack stalled, Geneva usually got the ball back with favorable field position. With a few tricks along the way – most notably a 71-yard fake punt pass from Santacaterina to Ryan Skibinski – the Vikings kept things fresh even as things sputtered at times.
“I know I can’t complain,” Wicinski said. “I’ll take a hot start and fizzle out, I suppose, instead of no start at all and fizzle out.”
North is determined not to follow that former path. A visit to defending Class 6A state champion Batavia looms in Week 5.
“You know, we’ve got to come back and strap up the boots and get ready to go again,” Pomazak said. “Because there’s no reason to put our tail between the legs, we’ve just got to learn from it and get better right away. We don’t have much time to waste. We’ve got to get better right now.”