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Schwab: Batavia, Geneva football head in opposite directions

Published: Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012 5:36 a.m. CDT
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(Sandy Bressner - sbressner@shawmedia.com)
Batavia takes the field before the Bulldogs’ home game against Geneva on Friday.

BATAVIA – Geneva still leads the all-time series, but in year 100 of the storied Batavia-Geneva football rivalry, there’s no argument who owns the here and now.

Batavia smacked Geneva around from the get-go Friday, turning pop music-blaring Bulldog Stadium into a nightlong party for an exuberant Batavia student section and the rest of the crammed home stands.

A late touchdown brought Geneva within 35-21, but that final score was charitable for the visitors. The win sent the Bulldogs to 3-0 and dumped Geneva to 0-3 for the first time since the 20th century.

For the second season in a row, bragging rights in the area’s premier rivalry belong indisputably to the Bulldogs, who are well on their way to giving last year’s 12-1, state semifinal season a suitable encore.

From the overcapacity crowd to the dominant showing on the field, the night went to script for Batavia.

“It’s just first class around here,” Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. “People all working together, all working in the same direction. I can’t say enough about the honor that it is to coach in this community with the kind of support that you get. It really is a lot of fun. We don’t want for anything here at Batavia.”

Not points, that’s for sure.

For breaking in a new junior quarterback and losing several studs on defense from last year, the Bulldogs are miles ahead of where anyone could have reasonably expected.

Batavia has the personnel to beat you with the run or pass, just the way offensive coordinator Mike Gaspari likes it. Multi-purpose, shifty junior Anthony Scaccia has been a revelation in the season’s early going, continuing his breakthrough varsity debut Friday with a pair of touchdown runs and a handful of occasions when he had Geneva defenders grasping at air.

“He’s always been quick, but now he’s fast and explosive and has special speed,” Piron said. ... “He ended up being a 400-meter runner [during track season] and a 200-guy primarily. We thought he’d be a great 55-yard dash guy.

“Early on he was kind of figuring it out but by the end of the season we thought, if he can carry this over to football, my God, who will ever stop this guy when he busts through a hole? His upside is unbelievable. Sky’s the limit.”

Add in a linebacker disguised as a running back in Anthony Thielk – who had two first-half rushing TDs for Batavia – and an elite wideout in Zach Strittmatter, and you can see why the Bulldogs’ offense has been humming.

“It’s a tough combination,” Piron said, referring to Scaccia and Thielk in the backfield. “One guy that can run you over, one guy that you can hardly get your hands on. It’s got to be pretty frustrating for defenses to deal with those kids, and then you have a quarterback (Micah Coffey) that can throw it all over the football field, we have a lot of receivers who can go and get it, and we have an all-state receiver in (Zach) Strittmatter. I don’t know, we’re pretty tough to defend, obviously.”

On the other side of the field, the Vikings’ mettle is being tested in a major way.

Not only has Geneva been defeated soundly each time out this season, the Vikings have been beset by significant injuries. Senior offensive tackle Jake Bastin and starting quarterback Daniel Santacaterina were the latest big blows on Friday, with Santacaterina hobbling off the field in the third quarter after taking a hit from brawny Bulldogs defensive end Marquise Jenkins.

Geneva coach Rob Wicinski feared a collarbone injury that could send Geneva scrambling at the quarterback spot.

Geneva’s schedule becomes considerably less foreboding the rest of the way, but the Vikings will need a boatload of grit to dust themselves off and win at least five of six to earn their customary spot in the postseason.

“We’ve got to find a way to make it happen,” Wicinski said.

Meanwhile, provided they can stay focused and healthy, the Bulldogs’ outlook is considerably sunnier.

The Bulldogs can zero in on their conference title defense with the larger, underlying goal of using the next six weeks to ready themselves for another deep postseason run.

Batavia 3-0, Geneva 0-3.

A century-old rivalry has given both schools plenty to embrace, but in 2012, the pecking order couldn’t be any more clear-cut.

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

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