June 17, 2024
Sports - Kane County

Sports - Kane County

Early opportunities fizzle for Vikings

GENEVA – Sometimes, no matter how well things are scripted, a win isn’t in the cards.

With a trip to Champaign for the IHSA Class 6A state championship game, as well as an opportunity to avenge its lone regular-season loss against its neighbors and archrival on the line, Geneva couldn’t put together the performance it needed Saturday, falling to the now 12-1 and state-bound Batavia Bulldogs, 28-0.

Playing before a sold-out-and-then-some crowd at Burgess Field, the Vikings, looking for their first state final appearance since 1975, had their opportunities early.

Geneva opened the game with an eight-play, 56-yard drive but came away with nothing after a fourth-and-2 would-be touchdown pass from quarterback Shaun Ratay to Aaron O’Connell was broken up at the last second by Batavia’s Alex Warner.

After Geneva forced the Bulldogs into a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, Ratay again marched the Vikings downfield, only to have the drive stamped out on an interception by Batavia defensive back Dan Schmitt.

Save for a failed 32-yard field-goal attempt in the second quarter, that was as close as the Vikings’ offense would get all night, continually stymied by a dominant Batavia front four that allowed only 46 rushing yards.

“Not to get points when you do have it in their field position – yeah, that hurts,” said Geneva coach Rob Wicinski, whose team finished the season with a school record-tying 11 wins. “I don’t know that the kids were down [after that] – they shouldn’t have been. Giving up that last-second touchdown in the second quarter hurt more than not scoring there in the first quarter.”

Already down 12-0 at halftime, Geneva fell into an insurmountable hole after Batavia’s Warner ran back the second half’s opening kickoff to the Geneva 27 to set up a 19-yard Brandon Holl touchdown run. The deficit forced Ratay into constant passing situations, allowing the Batavia line to tee off.

A leader to the end, Ratay refused to make excuses.

“I thought our line did a great job of holding them off. We just needed to complete some passes, but we didn’t,” said Ratay, who was harassed into an uncharacteristic 12-of-40 passing night and two interceptions.

“They’re a good team,” Ratay said. “People say we don’t want it as much as they do, but that’s not the case at all. They got the turnovers and played better, but it’s definitely not a case of wanting it more.”

“[Batavia’s] very well coached, they’ve got very good size and they controlled the line of scrimmage,” Wicinski said. “I gotta give them kudos. We had trouble up front.”

Still, for Ratay, the sting of defeat didn’t obscure all that this Geneva squad accomplished.

“This season’s meant the world to me,” said Ratay, just before leaving the field with his arm over the shoulder of an emotional Chris Modjeski. “I love everybody on this team. It’s been the best time of my life. I just wish we could’ve gone a little farther.

“Next couple years these guys are gonna be pretty good, and I’ll be back watching them.”