June 21, 2024
Sports - Kane County


Sports - Kane County

Schwab: Bulldogs mightier than Vikes

GENEVA – Geneva backers hoped what they saw in the regular-season finale was a mirage.

Maybe Batavia had caught Geneva overconfident the first time the teams hooked up. Maybe it was untimely turnovers that doomed the Vikings. Maybe some extra practice time would allow Geneva to successfully troubleshoot.

Nope.

Turns out the Bulldogs are just better. Much better.

“There’s no other way to put it than we’ve got better players ... if they don’t believe it now, I’ve got no words,” Batavia defensive end Kevin McFarland said.

Batavia’s 28-0 throttling of Geneva on arguably the biggest night in Tri-Cities prep sports history Saturday was not one to overanalyze.

There are many ways to win a football game, but few are possible when the other team has a big edge in muscle. Batavia was determined not to let its strength advantage go to waste.

“Our goal was to hit,” Batavia linebacker Nick Bex said. “That’s what we did last time, and they went down. That’s what we wanted to do. Hit, hit and hit.”

The Bulldogs teed off on Geneva’s linemen, battered Geneva quarterback Shaun Ratay and swallowed running back Chris Modjeski whenever he dared approach the line of scrimmage.

Hopefully, Geneva backers enjoyed every minute of the buildup leading to this Class 6A state semifinal, because once the game started, it was a glum night to be in blue.

All that honking Batavia fans did on their way home must have given Geneva fans a serious headache, but it’s nothing compared to the ringing in the Vikings players’ heads after some of the wallops they absorbed.

The Vikings are no weaklings. Their line play has overwhelmed most every opponent during their 11-2 season.

But those two in the loss column came to a team that looks so devoted to the weight room, you figure the Bulldogs did a few sets of squats when the buses dropped them back off at the school.

Man, does Batavia love to hit. Defensive ends Mike Garrity and McFarland are especially rugged, but almost everyone in Batavia colors is capable of throwing opposing blockers in reverse.

You’d expect a team this vicious to have a coach in the Mike Ditka mold, snarling and brusque. But Bulldogs coach Mike Gaspari is about as mild-mannered as they come. He looks more like he should be coaching croquet.

The players know better.

“He comes off as a calm guy, but when we get ready before the game, he gets a little scary,” Bex said. “He’s not a big guy, but he has a big voice.”

Gaspari’s Mr. Mellow persona is by design. Keeping his cool gives players “an air of confidence,” said Gaspari, whose transformation of Batavia’s program to one of the state’s elite is now complete.

“They know how intense I am, and how badly I want to win,” Gaspari said.

The Vikings wanted to win just as bad, but that was never really an option Saturday.

Geneva had a wonderful season. It just won’t end in Champaign, where Batavia is set to make its maiden voyage next weekend.

Safe to say the Bulldogs will make a strong first impression.

• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at (630) 845-5382 or jschwab@kcchronicle.com.

Jay Schwab

Jay Schwab

Jay Schwab was the Kane County Chronicle Sports Editor from 2008-15