Geneva coach Rob Wicinski eventually smiled and joked with a waiting group of players after Friday’s 27-26 homecoming victory against St. Charles East.
His temperament was more serious, however, in assessing the win that sent the Vikings to 6-0.
"We were a little tight to begin," Wicinski said. "We've got to start off better."
East struck early behind its triple-option offense, taking just over a minute to cover 76 yards in three plays on the opening drive. Freshman Justin Jett punctuated the possession with his first touchdown run of a breakthrough night.
"He's a freshman that's just been playing real well," Saints coach Bryce Farquhar said. "He's a big, physical kid that's done really well for us so far."
Geneva is the only remaining unbeaten team in the Kane County Chronicle coverage area, although longtime rival Batavia also is unblemished in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division. The Vikings host the Bulldogs in Week 8.
"We're just happy to be here right now," Geneva senior left tackle Matt Pawlak said. "We're happy that we have this record, but we don't want to say what we are right now."
Comparisons to state title team for Batavia
You could tell there was disappointment after Batavia’s 34-14 loss to Naperville Central Friday night, especially from leaders like Canaan Coffey. But the senior wide receiver has been through this before and knows that the program and chemistry this team has trumps any sort of down moment.
"The [2013 Batavia] team that won state, they lost in Week 2," Coffey said. "But they got stronger from it and built on it and got stronger as a team, and I think that's what we're going to do. We're a resilient team and this feeling will definitely prove that we're a quality team and can come back from something like this."
There isn't a possible scenario heading into a game undefeated where a loss seemed like a good thing. But now that Batavia has has experienced it, there seems to be less pressure on the Bulldogs.
In a game that meant something, but at the same time very little because it did not affect the UEC River race, Batavia still has its mind set on a conference championship, and much more.
"Being undefeated going into the playoffs is kind of scary," Bulldogs quarterback Kyle Niemiec said. "It's not a good thing to lose, ever really, but we know what it feels like and would much rather have the first loss come now instead of in the playoffs and have everything be over just like that."
The game, obviously, meant something to both teams, but if Batavia was going to lose a regular season game, it likely would have chosen this game, against a tough, nonconference, Class 8A opponent with a fantastic defense, that still keeps the Bulldogs' goals intact.
Should the Bulldogs respond well, and take care of business with Elgin this week, a date with Geneva in Week 8 will be for the UEC River title. Should Geneva beat UEC crossover foe Glenbard East this week, the Vikings will come into that matchup undefeated.
– Chris Casey, email@example.com
– Sports editor Kevin Druley contributed to this report
IN THE GROOVE
Ryan Skibinski, Geneva, Sr., WR
What he did: For the second time this season, Skibinski caught the eventual game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter. The most recent one, against St. Charles East on Friday, moved the Vikings to 6-0 on the season.
Justin Jett, St. Charles East, Fr., RB
What he did: Jett ran for 96 yards and two touchdowns in the first half Friday night as the Saints almost pulled off the upset at Geneva. He eclipsed 100 yards for the game.
After a win over Yorkville in Week 4 moved Kaneland to 3-1 on the season, two straight defeats have the Knights sitting at .500, and in danger of missing the playoffs for a second straight season. With three games left – including road tests at Morris this week and in the season finale at Rochelle – Kaneland needs to win at least two games to become playoff eligible.
A tough opponent in the UEC Valley’s Glenbard East in the team standing in Geneva’s way of a 7-0 start entering a Week 8 clash with visiting Batavia. Glenbard East (4-2) can score points, that’s for sure, as evidenced in last week’s 61-47 loss to South Elgin.