Illinois High School Football News

Tommy Diamond, Geneva shine in rout of St. Charles East, become playoff eligible

Geneva’s Tommy Diamond rushes for a touchdown during a game at St. Charles East on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022.

ST. CHARLES – If he has to, Tommy Diamond will wear a bandage club on his left hand.

Diamond, Geneva’s standout linebacker, did not appear in the second half of the Vikings’ 42-0 rout over St. Charles East on Sept. 30. Diamond suffered a suspected fractured left knuckle on his pinkie.

Diamond and the Vikings obviously know of the test ahead this week. That would be Batavia – the program Geneva has not beaten since 2010.

The Vikings haven’t scored a point against the Bulldogs in five consecutive games.

“No way [I’m missing this week]. I’m going all out [this week],” said Diamond, who had a pair of sacks against St. Charles East. “Most important week of the year for us.”

The Vikings (5-1, 3-1 DuKane Conference) had a job to do against St. Charles East. Geneva looked to become playoff eligible for the second consecutive season.

Geneva’s Talyn Taylor (1) blocks St. Charles East’s Cayman Manuel during a game at St. Charles East on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022.

The Vikings did so in convincing fashion from the opening whistle.

Geneva scored on its opening offensive play, a 22-yard Nate Stempowski touchdown pass to Talyn Taylor. After a second Saints punt, Troy Velez capped a five-play drive for the Vikings with a 4-yard touchdown run and a 14-0 lead with 7:13 left in the first quarter.

Geneva defensive back Eli Curry then intercepted Saints quarterback Mac Paul, who was starting in place of Lane Robinson who suffered a separated shoulder the previous week.

Stempowski found Michael Loberg for a 28-yard touchdown pass and 21-0 advantage.

The Saints (2-4, 0-4) appeared to have a 52-yard score by senior running back Trent Matejko, but a holding penalty negated the touchdown. Matejko returned to the lineup after missing two weeks with a torn PCL. He was donning a left knee brace and grinded for 39 rushing yards.

Geneva scored with 5:27 left in the half on Velez’s 7-yard TD to make it 28-0 at the break.

“We needed a good week of practice [after the loss to St. Charles North],” Geneva coach Boone Thorgesen said. “We needed to get back to the basics and get back to doing what we do. I thought we came out here ready to go and that was our best first quarter that we had all year and it was because we practiced with purpose and that was our motto this week. You could see coming out, we were ready.”

Stempowski added a touchdown pass to Charlie Winterhalter, and Jackson Reyes’ fumble return for a touchdown with 2:59 left in the third quarter put the finishing touches on the effort.

Geneva’s Anthony Pantano (20) and Michael Loberg (21) celebrate Loberg’s touchdown during a game at St. Charles East on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022.

“[Becoming playoff eligible] is one of the goals we’ve had. It’s not the end goal, obviously, but … long season ahead of us and it’s great to get five [wins] early in the year, but we got a lot of season left. We’re still going to be hungry,” Thorgesen said.

Stempowski finished 12-for-27 for 152 yards and three touchdowns. Taylor had six receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown. Velez added 50 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Paul finished 6-for-21 for 28 yards. The Geneva secondary did not allow a completion in the second half.

“This is just one of those [games] where we could never catch rhythm,” Saints coach Nolan Possley said. “From the first series, we couldn’t get in a rhythm but that’s a lot on myself, too. I couldn’t be more proud of Mac stepping in here on short notice on a quick turnaround from last week. We were kind of up in the air on the situation and what was going to take place. For him to come in and lead the guys the way he did, I couldn’t be more proud of Mac.”