June 09, 2023
Sports - Kane County

Sports - Kane County

High school football: St. Charles East defense gets it done vs. Geneva, Saints move to 3-0

St. Charles East's Sebastian Grohe (right) wraps up South Elgin's Nate Gomez on Aug. 26. Grohe had one of the Saints' four interceptions in a 30-0 win against Geneva on Sept. 9.

ST. CHARLES – Despite winning its first two games, the St. Charles East football team’s season was going to be graded on its performance against the likes of its Tri-Cities rivals – Geneva, St. Charles North and Batavia.

The Saints passed their first test with flying colors against Geneva.

East clicked on all cylinders, causing six turnovers en route to a 30-0 shutout of the Vikings in both teams’ Upstate Eight Conference River opener Sept. 9.

Although Geneva had a difficult time stopping East’s triple option – one that took yet another step toward the level coach Bryce Farquhar knows the program can be at – the Saints’ defense sparked them from nearly start to finish.

“I’m very pleased with the way our defense played,” Farquhar said. “Our defense was outstanding. The turnovers really kept us in the game. I thought when Geneva did throw the ball, our guys read the routes and did a good job creating turnovers.”

While much focus has been on quarterback Zach Mitchell and his backfield in the triple option that include sophomore fullback Justin Jett (six rushing touchdowns this season) and Nick Garlisch, Farquhar doesn’t think his defense always gets the credit it deserves.

Take the Geneva game as an example. It seemed East (3-0, 1-0 UEC River) was going to drive down the field on Geneva (1-2, 0-1) and put six points on the board on its first drive.

However, the drive stalled, forcing a field goal from Matthew Burns. That’s when one of the Saints’ defensive standouts in the game, Clayton Isbell, made his first impact. The 6-foot-3 junior defensive back intercepted Geneva quarterback Kyle Evert near midfield and returned the ball down to the Vikings’ 6-yard line, where it was eventually punched in for a touchdown by Mitchell from 5 yards out.

“A lot of it starts with our defensive line getting pressure on the quarterback,” Isbell said. “From there, we were just able to read the quarterback’s eyes and make a play on the ball. Our whole [defensive] group knows we have what it takes to cause problem, we just have to go out there and show everyone that we can do it.”

That was one of two interceptions for Isbell, while Yalon Rogers and Sebastian Grohe also had interceptions.

As important as the interceptions were as part of the six takeaways and dominant victory for East, a play midway through the fourth quarter was a telling tale that the Saints were not going to let Geneva change the zero on the scoreboard.

Evert hooked up on a slant with Jacob Temple, who broke a tackle up the middle and appeared headed for the end zone. After gaining 50 yards on the play – Geneva’s longest play of the night – East senior Matt Bertke not only caught up to Temple, he also stripped the ball and East recovered.

Geneva got close to the end zone on its final drive, but Isbell’s second interception sealed the shutout win.

Garlisch, who also played defensive back to go along with his team-high 108 rushing yards and a touchdown, said the success of the defense starts with aggression.

“We honestly just love getting after guys and hitting people,” Garlisch said. “We studied what kind of routes they wanted to run and jumped most of them. We truly think we’re the best team in the conference and want to prove that each and every time we get out on the field.”

As dominant as East’s three wins have been – by a combined 105 points – it faces its toughest opponent yet in Week 4 in crosstown rival St. Charles North (3-0, 1-0).

“The kids just have this energy about them,” Farquhar said. “It’s really great to be around and it’s fun to coach. They believe in themselves and they believe in their teammates. Our success is built a lot on that… trusting the guy next to you. We’ve done a good job of that so far.”


Week 4 matchup

St. Charles East at St. Charles North

What: Upstate Eight River football

When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 16

Where: 255 Red Gate Road, St. Charles

Records: East 3-0; North 3-0

Outlook: Not that this matchup needs any additional hype beyond the rivalry aspect, but there are other storylines in this one. Both teams enter the game undefeated in the UER, having won via shutout in Week 3. Both offenses have been productive (30 or more points in every game this season) while the defenses have been stout. The Saints have allowed 23 points this season while the North Starts have yielded just 10. And between the sophomore and varsity games the annual Kick-A-Thon fundraiser will culminate with students, teachers and administrators raising a leg for charity.


Week 4 matchup

Geneva at Streamwood

What: Upstate Eight River football

When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 16

Where: 701 E. Schaumburg Road, Streamwood

Records: Geneva 1-2; SHS 1-2

Outlook: After opening the season with a win against St. Francis, the Vikings have dropped two straight, including a narrow loss against Kaneland in Week 2. Geneva will look to get back on track against Streamwood. The Sabres slipped by West Chicago in Week 2 for their win but otherwise have struggled, including in a 56-7 loss against Batavia on Sept. 9.

Chris Casey for Shaw Local News Network

Chris Casey is a contributing reporter to Shaw Local News Network