GENEVA – The St. Charles North defense had allowed just 40 total points in seven games entering play on the road against Geneva on Oct. 14.
Though Geneva needed to win its final two games of the regular season to give itself a chance at a playoff berth, the Vikings still presented one of the tougher offenses the North Stars had seen up until this point in the season.
North once again proved difficult to solve on the defensive side of the football as the Vikings mustered a field goal as their only points in a 30-3 victory for North to remain one game back of the Upstate Eight River race.
Though it appears that St. Charles East will finish the regular season with a perfect 9-0 record – capturing the UER title – the North Stars have higher aspirations in mind that include a deep postseason run.
"We think this is our year," said North junior Lucas Segobiano, who plays on both sides of the ball. "We've had a great year so far and expect to keep that going. We're really locked in [defensively] and are so focused, which is making things come a lot easier."
The defense made its impact early after North quarterback Zach Mettetal was intercepted on the North Stars' game-opening drive. Geneva's third offensive snap was over the head of quarterback Kyle Evert and pounced on by running back Lance Arni in the end zone for a safety.
The ensuing free kick gave the North Stars (7-1, 5-1 UER) great field position, which they capitalized on with a 14-yard run by Eric Lins for an early 9-0 lead. Segobiano added a 4-yard score of his own on the ground on the third play of the second quarter to open up a 16-0 lead.
"To start off, our defensive coordinator RIck Magsamen and [defensive line coach] Dan Meyo have done just a fantastic job of preparing the kids," North coach Rob Pomazak said. "Everyone we put out there know their roles extremely well. It's never perfect out there, but these kids have a willingness and ability to learn and get better."
Of the North Stars' eight games, six of them have seen their opponents score three points or less after Friday night's effort against Geneva (3-5, 2-4). Another big test awaits when North travels to meet Batavia (7-1, 5-1) in the regular season finale for both teams.
After not seeing much responsibility an a junior, Pomazak felt that now senior middle linebacker Jack Wolf had the ability to takeover on the defensive captain duties and has thrived as a leader on that side of the ball.
"It's something I like to have on my shoulders," Wolf said of the play-calling duties. "It's fun to make sure we're all where we need to be. We have done a great job executing this year. There were holes to be filled last year and I think we just have done a great job, all 11 guys, communicating and figuring out where we need to be in every situation."
Segobiano was involved in some of what he called "expected" physical play that resulted in seven personal foul penalties being issued in the second half alone between both teams.
The junior running back finished with 118 total yards, 110 of which came through the air. Mettetal was able to escape the pocket several times and make plays, and it was Segobiano's one-handed grab that set up Lins' score early in the first quarter.
Both Mettetal and Segobiano praised the defense effort, saying it makes their jobs much easier on offense when the defense plays so strong.
"It takes a lot of the pressure off, you know," said Mettetal, who finished 174 passing yards and a rushing touchdown. "We know if we make a mistake, the defense is going to have our backs. It's a good feeling and I feel like the offense knows that and has made plays as well. We're clicking in all phases right now and we like where we are heading to Batavia next week."
The end of this season for Geneva coach Rob Wicinski will be bit different after Friday's loss eliminated the Vikings from playoff contention for just the second time in 13 seasons.
Wicinski, in his 18th year at the helm of the Vikings' program, knew that his team needed strong execution against the North Stars to keep their season alive, but were unable to do so.
"It's the same demons we've been fighting all year," Wicinski said. "Fighting ourselves, fighting our assignments, fighting the turnover battle … I always tell them you can't play against two teams [yourself and your opponent]. We can play against one, but against a good team, it's tough. We could have rolled up and called it quits a long time ago, but the kids keep coming to practice hard every day and that's all you can ask for as a coach."
Arni led Geneva with 82 rushing yards, while Evert threw for 118 on 13-of-25 passing. The Vikings' offense was held to just 198 total yards of offense.
Geneva heads to unbeaten West Aurora in the final week, while the North-Batavia battle for what looks like second place in the UER – unless 2-6 Streamwood can go on the road and knock off unbeaten St. Charles East in Week 9.
ST. CHARLES NORTH 30, GENEVA 3
St. Charles North 9 7 14 0
Geneva 0 3 0 0
HOW THEY SCORED
SCN: Safety, Geneva recovered fumble in end zone, 10:19.
SCN: Lins 14 run (A. Durocher kick), 9:19.
SCN: Segobiano 4 run (A. Durocher kick), 6:44.
GEN: King 33 FG, :56.
SCN: Mettetal 1 run (A. Durocher kick), 10:43.
SCN: Lins 8 run (A. Durocher kick), :44.
RUSHING: St. Charles North – Lins 13-103, Mettetal 10-20, Segobiano 3-8, Torres 2-2, Hohensee 1-minus-3. Geneva – Arni 26-82, Swanson 3-13, Campbell 3-7, K. Evert 11-7, Stempowski 1-1, Osborne 1-minus-1, Murray 1-minus-11. 46-98.
PASSING: St. Charles North – Mettetal 12-22-2-174, Hohensee 0-1-0-0. Geneva – K. Evert 13-25-1-118, Murray 0-0-0-0, Arni 0-1-1-0.
RECEIVING: St. Charles North – Segobiano 6-110, Lins 4-45, B. Durocher 2-19. Geneva – Krieger 3-36, M. Evert 2-34, Mansfield 2-15, Arni 3-12, Swanson 1-10, Navigato 1-6, Davison 1-5.
TOTAL TEAM YARDS: St. Charles North 304, Geneva 198.
Sophomore score: Geneva 36, St. Charles North 14.