GENEVA – Geneva sold out of its inventory of football seat cushions just a few minutes into Friday’s second quarter.
Turns out the player prompting Vikings’ fans to rise from the bleachers most often arguably deserved the biggest breather.
Senior quarterback Sean Chambers, a Princeton recruit as a defensive back, plays both positions for Geneva, rotating in defensively when needed. In the season opener against West Aurora, he didn’t simply compete, but excelled.
Chambers keyed the Vikings’ 28-14 win with three touchdown passes and sturdy defensive play that helped the hosts maintain control throughout a cool, pleasant night – Chambers’ cramping notwithstanding.
“It was nice to be able to play on both sides, to keep working defense and everything,” Chambers said. “It’s kind of just key plays on defense, but it went great tonight. I’m just overwhelmed and overjoyed.”
Chambers displayed his offensive nimbleness on the night’s first play, connecting with classmate Jack Wassel for 12 yards on a play action rollout. While Wassel paced a deep corps of Vikings receivers and tight ends with six receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown, he also kept seniors Ryan Skibinski and Brendan Hines involved, among others.
Perhaps that’s why the Geneva marching band, clad in new uniforms, played “With a Little Help From My Friends” as part of its Beatles tribute during halftime.
“What Sean’s doing really well is he’s getting it out there with his timing,” Vikings coach Rob Wicinski said.
“He’s going to do nothing but get better.”
From a few vocal fans’ point of view, officials certainly weren’t aiding the cause of fluidity, however. Both teams were penalized seven times in what ultimately ended as a lumbering first half, with the Blackhawks whistled for 65 yards and Geneva hit for 61.
The second half wasn’t much better, with facemasks proving to be a particularly popular call. After a scoreless third quarter, West Aurora capitalized on an improved running attack and a handful of Geneva miscues to pull within 20-14 with 9:01 left. Blackhawks fullback Jessie Martinez’s 10-yard touchdown run and the ensuing point after closed the gap, but West Aurora’s DaQuan Cross (nine carries, 156 yards) was especially effective.
Still, that the Vikings limited Cross to one touchdown amid non-scoring runs of 81 and 33 yards left the ‘D’ feeling good about its resiliency.
“We just locked down. We stayed disciplined,” senior defensive lineman Stephen Kemp said. “We did what we were trying to do. We just played better, you know.”
Chambers returned to his early savvy down the stretch, leading a lengthy scoring drive that culminated with a one-yard touchdown run from Justin Taormina with 3:25 to play.
Taormina finished with 107 yards on 27 carries. Chambers, who had 16 yards rushing, was 16 of 22 for 142 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
“This team’s full of surprises,” Chambers said. “A lot of kids really stepped up, made key plays. I’m excited to see what’s going to come in the future. I love everybody, everyone’s having a fun time. That’s all that really matters.”
GENEVA 28, WEST AURORA 14
West Aurora 0 7 0 7 – 14
Geneva 13 7 0 8 – 28
G – Hines 11 pass from Chambers (Hines kick), 8:22
G – Wassel 9 pass from Chambers (kick failed), 0:22
W – DaQuon Cross 4 run, (Watkins kick), 2:04
G – Skibinski 8 pass from Chambers (Hines kick), 0:31
W – Martinez 10 run (Watkins), 9:01
G – Taormina 1 run (Chambers pass to Erdmann), 3:25
RUSHING – West Aurora: DaQuan Cross 9-156, Behrens 4-23, Martinez 3-15, Spears 6-10, DaVion Cross 5-7, Doyle 13-2. Totals: 44-213. Geneva: Taormina 27-107, Chambers 9-16, Bodine 4-10. Totals: 40-133. PASSING – West Aurora: Doyle 10-14-111. Geneva: Chambers 16-22-142-3-0. RECEIVING – West Aurora: Donatlan 4-44, Spears 3-29, DaVion Cross 2-29, DaQuan Cross 1-9. Geneva: Wassel 6-61, Skibinski 6-42, Erdmann 1-16, Hines 1-11, Buck 1-9, Taormina 1-3.
Total offense: West Aurora 324, Geneva 275