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Games of the Week Breakdown: Batavia-Geneva, St. Charles East-St. Charles North

Geneva (0-2, 0-0 Upstate Eight Conference River Division) at Batavia (2-0, 0-0 UEC River), 7:30 p.m. today

What the crowd will be buzzing about

Why, the history, gee whiz. This season marks the 100th year of the Batavia-Geneva football rivalry, as well as the earliest calendar date on which the teams have played since Batavia rolled, 35-0, on Aug. 29, 1997.

“This got to be a special thing for the communities in Week 9 in recent seasons, but with seven conference games, it’s tough to make it that because someone is left out of the mix in the conference,” said Bulldogs offensive coordinator Mike Gaspari, who retired in 2011 as the school’s longtime football coach and athletic director. “I understand the way it’s set up.”

Geneva will have it rolling if ...

Connor Slepikas and the secondary can disrupt the connection between Bulldogs quarterback Micah Coffey and wide receiver Zach Strittmatter.

The Vikings could also cut the suspense and keep Coffey uncomfortable in the pocket, but something must be done to curtail what Geneva coach Rob Wicinski calls a tangible offensive “juju” for the Bulldogs. That will be a major challenge as starting defensive linemen Nathan Balettie and Jake Boser continue to miss time with injuries.

“It’s got to be something different,” Wicinski said. “They can’t be getting the same old, same old. It’s got to get mucked up somehow. I’m not saying that we can do it, but it’s got to be different. The game has to get out of their rhythm.”

What the fly on the wall in Geneva's locker room might hear:

“All right, fellas. Batavia. The third week, the third hill of all the ones we ran that first day of summer camp. We all know what it means to you and to this program.

“We also know that we’re banged up, but we’re standing. We’re 0-2, but we’ve got a lot of football left. We know we’re getting better, but we know that nothing shows that more than that first mark in the win column.

“I absolutely want you to realize this: We can win this game. That team in red may not think so, but all that matters is what we think. So let’s all tell them something they didn’t know. Let’s go out there and deserve that ‘W.’ ”

Batavia will have it rolling if ...

Its experienced offensive line – highlighted by returning starters Adam Hunger, Ben Link and Sebastian Vermaas – controls Geneva’s injury-strained defensive front.

Batavia also could thrive on the other side of the line as Marquise Jenkins and Co. take aim against a Vikings front that likely will be missing senior tackle Jake Bastin, sidelined with a knee injury.

Motivation shouldn’t be a problem.

“More than anything, I like the demeanor of our kids at any given point in the game,” Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. “I think guys worry about themselves and not their teammates, they never get on each other and they listen to their coaches.”

What the fly on the wall in Batavia’s locker room might hear:

“Guys, I don’t really care what their record is now on the other side of that field. It’s pretty obvious to me that they have a solid football team who just happened to play great teams to start the season.

“I know we’re flying high around here and I don’t want that to change, but you’ve got to remember to respect these guys. And yeah, you heard that from me. We saw their quarterback [Daniel Santacaterina] in the summer, and he can move and throw, and he didn’t look like a sophomore to me. But get after him and that [Bobby] Hess, and keep doing what we do on offense. If you can do that, this feeling that you have right now’s gonna stick around all night.”

Kevin Druley’s prediction:

Batavia 35, Geneva 17

Don’t put it past Wicinski and Co. to concoct some anti-”juju” elixir and frustrate the ‘Dogs from time to time. But also don’t put it past Batavia’s stable of playmakers to showcase their stamina, depth and confidence, and keep attacking throughout the night.

St. Charles East (1-1, 0-0 UEC River) at St. Charles North (0-2, 0-0 UEC River), 7:30 p.m. today

What the crowd will be buzzing about

That it’s seeing one another so soon after those Labor Day barbecues. The 12th annual crosstown classic – plus the accompanying charity Kick-A-Thon and other traditional staples – have been showcased late in the fall during recent seasons, but the scheduling tweak this time has accelerated the excitement.

St. Charles East will have it rolling if ...

Senior fullback/linebacker Joe Hoscheit remains a force on both sides of the ball.

“To me, our team goes as Joe goes, and Joe’s our warrior,” East coach Mike Fields said. “Joe doesn’t care about stats, he cares about wins, and we haven’t had as many of those as we’d like with him here. But he’s making tackles and running and going full steam ahead and the other guys are feeding off of that.”

Hoscheit and tailbacks Justin Cameron and Anthony Sciarrino should get added carries after tailback Erik Anderson, doubtful for today’s game, left last week’s 26-21 win against West Aurora with a separated shoulder. Fields said the injury wasn’t as severe as the team initially thought and that Anderson is progressing.

What the fly on the wall in St. Charles East's locker room might hear:

“Your families and your buddies and your girlfriends have all been talking to you about this game since the schedule came out. But what have we been saying all week, guys? It doesn’t matter where we start the conference season, it’s all about the UEC River from here on in.

“Over there in the other locker room, they’re still finding it, you know. They’re 0-2, but we know how that goes. We’ve been there. You’ve just got to rep it out. Those guys know what they’re doing, and we do, too. So let’s show how, and show how we keep after ‘em for all four quarters.”

St. Charles North will have it rolling if ...

Its offense can get untracked. Switching to a spread attack behind offensive coordinator Jared McCall – who previously guided the ‘D’ for nearly a decade – North has visited the end zone just once in eight quarters this season.

After being shut out in the opener, North spoiled a solid defensive performance in last week’s 14-7 loss at Plainfield Central.

North still is looking for a breakthrough performance out of seasoned senior running back George Edlund, who has support in the backfield from junior Evan Kurtz.

“You give [Edlund] a little crack, and he can go, but the problem is he hasn’t had that crack. He hasn’t had holes to run through,” North Stars coach Mark Gould said. “He’s been working hard but if he has a good attitude and keeps at it, I think he knows the line is going to come around.”

What the fly on the wall in St. Charles North's locker room might hear:

“At some point tonight – whether it’s before the anthem, during the first timeout or as we take a break at the half – you guys are going to look out and notice the crowd here. Don’t take too long, but soak it in. This is a special game, and even though it’s a little earlier than we’re used to, it’s still North and East.

“Let’s give the ones in our colors something to shout about, and the ones in orange and black something they’ll never forget. We’re due for a big win to get us rolling, and there’s a bunch of folks who are here to see it.”

Kevin Druley’s prediction:

St. Charles North 17, St. Charles East 13

Why not another nail-biter in a series that’s been full of them? North’s offense has notably sputtered, but the strides on defense and special teams will keep the North Stars around. Both coaches have spoken to the overall lack of beef on their lines, giving North a fighting shot to hold its blocks and create more running room.

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