KCCHRONICLE.COM/PREPS GAME OF THE WEEK
CLASS 7A: (7) GENEVA (9-1) AT (23) BRADLEY-BOURBONNAIS (7-3), 7:30 P.M. TODAY
The buzz in the stands
The next test awaits for Geneva, heading to Bradley-Bourbonnais to take on the Boilermakers in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs. Geneva, which last met the Boilermakers in 2007, took care of Oswego East in the first round, thanks in large part to a record-setting game from running back Justin Taormina, while Bradley-Bourbonnais saw fireworks of its own after upsetting Glenbrook North, 60-59, in double overtime on a two-point conversion attempt.
As these games grow in magnitude, longtime Geneva coach Rob Wicinski doesn't plan to change what the Vikings are all about.
"We're going to do what we do best," Wicinski said. "If you've seen us play, you know what we like to do, so we're going to continue to do it. We're excited to get down there and have a good time."
The marquee matchup
Geneva's offensive line against the Bradley-Bourbonnais defensive line will be something to watch in this one. Wicinski said he has yet to see a complete performance from his offensive line, yet the team sits at 9-1 on the season. He thinks the unit is close to breaking out, and despite not having played that well in Wicinski's eyes last week, were able to create enough room for Taormina to run for 282 yards and four touchdowns on a 7A playoff record 42 carries.
"I said if the (offensive line) didn't play well, we'd be in trouble last week, and they didn't play all that well, but we weren't in trouble," Wicinski said. "One of these games, they are going to pop and come alive, so if they do that, we'll be in pretty good shape."
Wicinski knows the Bradley-Bourbonnais defense, led by linebackers Mason DeLong and Camren Douglas, flies around and does enough to make things interesting for his group.
Bradley-Bourbonnais wide receiver Camron Harrell.
Geneva must contain the junior playmaker. In the team's first round game, Harrell scored six touchdowns, four of which came on the ground. Yes, he lines up in the wildcat formation and runs the ball, especially near the goal line. All four of his carries in the first-round win went for touchdowns.
Harrell also threw the game-winning two-point conversion pass to win the game. He also is a defensive back, so it will be rare to see him leave the field.
On the season, the 5-foot-11 Harrell has 14 total touchdowns, seven apiece on the ground and receiving. Needless to say, the Vikings would like to keep the ball out of his hands.
Best case-scenario for the Vikings
As Wicinski said, do what you do best. Sure, quarterback Sean Chambers will need to protect the ball and make a few plays with his arm and feet, but it will be important to get Taormina going again. He may not need a blockbuster performance this week for Geneva to advance, but will need his fair share of touches. The Vikings also look to welcome the return of wide receiver Jack Wassel (387 yards, six touchdowns), who Wicinski said was questionable after missing the past four games due to team disciplinary reasons.
Best case-scenario for the Boilermakers
Develop a rhythm between Harrell and quarterback Owen Starr early. I think it's important for Bradley-Bourbonnais to give the Vikings' defense fits with that connection early and often if it wants to pull off a second straight upset. Harrell won't need six touchdowns this week, but he'll have to have a big game. Geneva likes to play in chaos, so keeping things simple and getting an early lead would help, as well.
Chris Casey’s prediction
Geneva, 42, Bradley-Bourbonnais 27
The 59 points that Glenbrook North put up really stand out to me. The Boilermakers have stood by their defense for most of the season, but against an offense that seems to have found a really good rhythm for Taormina – and now is likely adding Wassel to go with fellow senior wideout Ryan Skibinski – the challenge looks like too much. Geneva picks up its 10th win and moves on to the 7A quarterfinals.