Geneva rebounds by blanking St. Charles East
Tommy Diamond will wear a bandage club on his left hand if he has to.
Diamond, Geneva's standout linebacker, did not appear in the second half of the Vikings 42-0 rout over St. Charles East on Friday. Diamond suffered a suspected fractured left knuckle on his pinkie.
Diamond and the Vikings obviously know of the test ahead next week. That would be Batavia -- the program Geneva has not beaten since 2010.
Furthermore, the Vikings haven't scored a point against the Bulldogs in five consecutive games.
"No way [I'm missing next week]. I'm going all out next week," said Diamond, who had a pair of sacks and a rushing score. "Most important week of the year for us."
The Vikings (5-1, 3-1) still had a job to do, become playoff eligible for the second consecutive season.
Geneva did so in convincing fashion from opening whistle.
It scored on its opening offensive play, a 22-yard Nate Stempowski touchdown pass to Talyn Taylor. After a second Saints punt, Diamond capped off a five-play drive for the Vikings with a 4-yard touchdown run and the 14-0 lead with 7:13 left in the first quarter.
Geneva defensive back Eli Curry promptly intercepted Saints quarterback Mac Paul, who was starting in place of Lane Robinson due to a separated shoulder sustained last week. Stempowski then found Michael Loberg for a 28-yard touchdown for the 21-0 advantage.
The Saints (2-4, 0-4) were soon initially able to find the end zone on an apparent 52-yard score by senior running back Trent Matejko, but a hold negated it. Matejko returned after missing two weeks with a torn left PCL donning a left brace and still grinded for 39 rushing yards.
Geneva scored with 5:27 left in the half on Troy Velez's 7-yard score 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 returned for a touchdown with 2:59 left in the third quarter put the finishing touches on a complete showing.
"[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 for 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 a touchdown.
Paul finished for 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," Possley continued. "For him to come in and lead the guys the way he did, I couldn't be more proud of Mac."