Coach: Rob Wicinski (107-63, 17th season)
Fast fact: Wicinski boasts 110 career victories, coming to Geneva from Niles North in 1999 with three wins in pocket.
Special teams spotlight: While many fans and opposing teams couldn't always figure out the Vikings punt-or-not-to-punt intentions, one thing is clear about fourth down: 2015 graduate Daniel Santacaterina, now at Northern Illinois, won't be the one dropping back.
Bottom line: Wicinski has been known to speak coyly from time to time, but he legitimately acknowledges the Vikings will have to accelerate swiftly at several spots in the early season. Several leaders return from both sides of the ball, but the team will need running back Justin Taormina to make consistent impact.
Training table: Athletic trainer Bill Durand has worked alongside Wicinski for the past 13 years. "Bill's always on the ball, you know," Wicinski said.
Talk about absolutes; veteran Geneva coach Rob Wicinski is.
"You know, it's funny," he said. "This could be one of my best teams, it could be one of my worst teams. I've got good football players. I don't have any superstars, but I've got good football players. Every year, you need some guys to pop. Like juniors to seniors. Like linemen that have never played. If we get some victories here, I think it'll be more of a program type of a win rather than just, 'Hey, I've got these superstars,' you know. But we'll see."
Wicinski remains up front about graduating two of the more memorable offensive weapons of recent Vikings vintage. In addition to being longtime best friends, quarterback Daniel Santacaterina and wide receiver Pace Temple ignited an attack that helped Geneva to the Class 7A quarterfinals in 2014.
Senior Sean Chambers, a Princeton recruit as a defensive back, will get the call under center, while classmates Jack Wassel and Donny Friedel flank him at receiver.
Another senior, Justin Taormina, is primed for a strong season at running back, impressing coaches and teammates with his strength and athleticism. Sounds about right for a track star reared in gymnastics.
"JT, he's just gone to another level," Wicinski said.
Several lynchpins from both sides of the line return to either clear a path for Taormina or try to keep opposing offenses from holding him off the field for too long. Senior Loudon Vollbrecht (6-foot-6, 255 pounds), an NCAA Division I prospect in football and basketball, will play as a swing tackle on the offensive line and factor into the defensive rotation up front.
Classmate Steve Kemp, part of an aggressive D-line that sparked the unit's 2014 resurgence, enjoyed a strong offseason and summer, along with Colin Lee. Jack Bodine, injured in the early stages of last season, aims to make an impact at linebacker.
"Everybody obviously is very talented," said Friedel, who will play on both sides of the ball, "but we all work together well. We're all connected."
– Kevin Druley, email@example.com
Aug. 28 vs. West Aurora, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 4 at Richards, 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 vs. Streamwood, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 18 at St. Charles North, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 25 at Elgin, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 2 vs. St. Charles East, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 9 at Glenbard East, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 16 vs. Batavia, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 23 at Larkin, 7:30 p.m.
Marquee matchup: Oct. 16 vs. Batavia. The traditional rivalry game produced the UEC River winner last season, with the Bulldogs rolling to a fast start at home and holding off the Vikings. The matchup rightfully seems destined for late in the season after moving around when the schools first joined the UEC.