When the Geneva football team entered the new Upstate Eight Conference River Division for the 2010 season, it was apparent having the upper-hand in the rivalry with the St. Charles schools would loom large if the Vikings were to enjoy success.
Never does that hold truer than this season.
The road to a potential ninth straight playoff berth goes through St. Charles for the Vikings, who have a shot to salvage their season these next two weeks with crucial contests at St. Charles North and at St. Charles East.
Considering the tail end of the 1-3 Vikings’ schedule is highly favorable, the Vikings’ playoff prospects should become much clearer by the time the St. Charles swing is through.
Win both of the games in St. Charles, and Geneva is in superb shape to make the playoffs.
Split the games against North and East, and the outlook is muddled, likely coming down to an Oct. 12 UEC crossover contest against Metea Valley (the most favorable crossover draw this side of East Aurora).
Go 0-for-St. Charles, and the Vikings will miss the playoffs in what would be a jarring development for a program of Geneva’s caliber.
To even harbor realistic playoff thoughts after the start Geneva had is a bonus. The Vikings were beaten soundly each of the first three weeks against Oswego, Wheaton North and Batavia, and the only thing that piled up quicker than losses were injuries.
But a glance at Geneva’s schedule made it clear the playoffs weren’t out of the question as long as the Vikings didn’t let the rough start weaken their resolve. Friday’s 56-23 thumping of Larkin provided encouraging evidence on that front.
Sitting at 1-3 is a precarious place to be, but considering the Vikings’ final three opponents – Elgin, Metea Valley and Streamwood – are a combined 2-10, you can see why keeping the program’s playoff streak going is not far-fetched.
Finding a way to five wins requires no worse than a split these next two weeks against North (1-3) and East (2-2). Geneva has kept both programs in check in recent years but success isn’t coming as easily to the Vikings in 2012.
North, like Geneva, is rejuvenated by a feel-good first win last week, while East has shown signs of improvement this season.
Both teams are in their own battles for playoff survival, so the Vikings won’t be the only hungry team taking the field.
Factor in the fact that the injury-plagued Vikings have turned to a freshman quarterback – albeit a promising one in Nick Derr – and we can anticipate close games and high drama these next couple weeks.
When the UEC River came together, it was apparent there would be some knockout, Tri-Cities vs. Tri-Cities games in the future. We’ve arrived at one of those junctures.
If Geneva is going to be playoff-bound, it’s going to have to be at the expense of its neighbors to the north.
• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or email@example.com.