June 24, 2024
Sports - Kane County


Sports - Kane County

High school football: Bob Ritter, Geneva set sights on Upstate Eight River title

New look for Vikings this season, but talent is there to compete for conference title

Geneva offensive lineman Bob Ritter comes to the line of scrimmage on Aug. 19 during a practice at the school. The Vikings have several new players taking over larger roles on both sides of the ball.

GENEVA – Geneva senior lineman Bob Ritter isn’t used to the spotlight. Watching now graduated seniors Loudon Vollbrecht (offense) and Stephen Kemp (defense) control each side of the line, Ritter is now thrust into a role where he plays a very important part in Geneva’s success. Losing pieces happen to every team, but Geneva might have taken the brunt of graduation more so than most teams. Ritter recently spoke with Kane County Chronicle correspondent Chris Casey to discuss is role and the Vikings’ outlook this season.

Casey: Does this team have what it takes to compete in a tough Upstate Eight River?

Ritter: Definitely. We have fast guys, strong guys, tough guys, and it's all good out here. Every team loses important pieces, but we gained a number of guys that can help us, and that will help us win games.

Casey: Coach Rob Wicinski said at practice that not many people believe this team can be successful this year. He always believes, but why do you guys believe it?

Ritter: We're constantly working to do everything we can to get better. We know we have what it takes. We're out here every single day pumping iron, in the weight room, outside running ... We want to be a successful team and know it's going to take a lot of hard work to get there.

Casey: What kind of an impact does coach Wicinski have to get you guys believing you can win?

Ritter: It's him, but it's every coach out here. Every day they help us, but, yeah, coach [Wicinski] is an amazing motivator and he knows how to get the best out of us.

Casey: It’s not easy being outside in close to 100-degree weather and practicing. What gets you through that?

Ritter: Teammates. It's all about playing and working hard for the guy next to you. We know one guy isn't going to make this team win. It has to be each and every guy. When one guy is down or tired, we push each other through it. That's all the motivation we need.

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WHAT TO WATCH

NEW FACES, BUT ONE IS THE SAME: Geneva may have lost contributors such as quarterback Sean Chambers and standout running back Justin Taormina, among many others, but the Vikings still have 'the Wiz' as some of the players call coach Rob Wicinski. Wicinski always has a passion for his teams that reaches a different level. "Every year you have turnover, that's part of being a high school coach," Wicinski said. "But you don't replace guys like that. Every year is about turning around what guys you have in front of you."

GETTING PAST THE ‘DOGS: Over the last five seasons, the Vikings have seen rival Batavia win outright UEC River championships. In four of those five seasons, Geneva took second place, with its only loss coming to those Bulldogs. The two will square off in Week 6 at Batavia, a game that could potentially feature both teams being unbeaten in conference play. “Those games are dogfights,” Geneva senior defensive back Lance Arni said. “We expect that every conference game is a tough one to win, but especially against Batavia and the St. Charles schools.”

QB TBD: It's easy to have a for-sure front runner for the starting quarterback position, but Wicinski says that's yet to be determined. In fact, he likes not knowing with this group. A roster that features senior Matt Evert and juniors Bobby Murray and Noah Palmer, Wicinski thinks the competition is exactly what this group needs. "The competition is good," he said. "It's healthy, but they push each other every day to get better. It's exciting."

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Geneva Vikings

Coach: Rob Wicinski

2015 record: 9-2 (5-1)

Conference: Upstate Eight River

Top returners

Nic Anastasia sr. DB

Lance Arni sr. DB

Kyle Evert sr. QB

Matt Evert sr. WR

Bob Ritter sr. DL

Chris Casey

Chris Casey – Shaw Local News Network correspondent

Chris Casey is a contributing reporter to Shaw Local News Network, covering high school sports in DuPage, Kane, and McHenry counties.