December 10, 2023
Sports - Kane County

Sports - Kane County

Prep football playoff notes: Geneva, Rockton Hononegah to scratch six-year itch

Geneva quarterback Daniel Santacaterina and the Vikings defeated Hersey, 41-27, in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs Saturday, setting up a visit from Rockton Hononegah in the second round. Santacaterina’s older brother, Michael, played for Geneva when it faced Hononegah in the second round in 2008.

Geneva football coach Rob Wicinski persistently searches for offensive equilibrium.

On Saturday at Burgess Field, he’ll see a different kind of symmetry in Rockton Hononegah counterpart Tim Sughroue.

The Vikings and Indians will meet in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs six years to the day after Geneva’s 46-28 victory in the same stage of the 2008 postseason.

“He’s still there. Go figure. And so am I,” Wicinski said. “Who would have thunk it? The thing is, we both do the same stuff, and hopefully we do it better than we did in ’08.”

Geneva advanced to the 7A state title game that fall, with its playoff run beginning with a home win against Rolling Meadows of the Mid-Suburban East. Six years later, the Vikings opened the playoffs with a 41-27 home win against Rolling Meadows’ Mid-Suburban East counterpart, Hersey.

In both cases, the Vikings braced for a old-fashioned, wing-T attack from Hononegah. Sam Ballano, a 5-foot-9, 185-pound senior, leads the 2014 version, and rushed for 188 yards on 25 carries in the Indians’ 25-14, first-round victory against Rockford Auburn.

It was Ballano’s 10th consecutive 100-yard game.

That’s the kind of consistency Wicinski also preaches. This weekend, he’ll seek it from a Geneva team whose seniors were sixth-graders when the Vikings and Indians last met.

“We’re always in the vicinity of each other,” Wicinski said. “If [Sughroue had] won, we’d have played, or if I’d have won, we’d have played. So we just happened to hit again six years later.”

Wicinski said senior defensive end Jack McCloughan is “probably gone” for the rest of Geneva’s postseason run with a broken hand he suffered and played with in the Hersey game.

Another repeat

Sticking with the “looks familiar” motif, Lakes, St. Francis’ opponent in a Class 6A, second-round game Saturday, has recent playoff history against teams from the Kane County Chronicle coverage area.

It’s not the proudest history, however. The Eagles lost to Batavia, 42-0, in a 6A quarterfinal in 2011.

Logged on, dialed in

With two-time defending state champion Mount Carmel – the 8A winner in 2012 and the 7A champ last season – needing three straight victories to even become playoff-eligible, Caravan coach Frank Lenti refrained from a familiar rite of autumn.

“I never even went on the IHSA website a single time during the season to look at anything in football,” Lenti said. “Whereas in the past, we always have done that. Been a very unusual season.”

The Caravan edged defending 6A champ Batavia, 21-16, in 7A first-round play at Bulldog Stadium last week. As his team continues clicking at the right time, Lenti can follow suit. updated second-round playoff dates and times about 2 p.m. Monday. That includes Mt. Carmel’s visit to Belleville West at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Friday funk

Of the 64 second-round games to be played statewide this weekend, only five are scheduled to be contested Friday – including two in Class 7A.

That continued a trend from the first round, in which only 31 of 128 games were played Friday.

Round 2 area matchups

Class 7A (1) Cary-Grove (10-0) at (9) St. Charles North (8-2), 2 p.m. Saturday (5) Rockton Hononegah (9-1) at (4) Geneva (9-1), 2 p.m. Saturday Class 6A No. 6 St. Francis (8-2) at No. 3 Lakes (9-1), 3 p.m. Saturday

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