GENEVA – St. Charles East and St. Charles North clawed their way to an overtime classic a few miles to the north, completing their game long after the Batavia football team already was finished chewing up Geneva on Friday night at Burgess Field.
The Bulldogs’ win might have lacked the drama of the other Tri-Cities rumble, but the loudest statement of the week was made by the two-time defending Upstate Eight Conference River champions. Batavia’s 49-20 thrashing of Geneva served as quite the tone-setter for the conference race.
“It’s exactly that, it makes a statement to the conference that a loss isn’t going to get us down,” Batavia quarterback Micah Coffey said, referring to last week’s loss to Richards. “We’re going to get right back up and get right back at it. Obviously this is a great win.”
One week after Geneva played a fairly competitive game against DuPage Valley Conference giant Wheaton North, Batavia’s smoother ride against Geneva made comparisons fair game.
“It proved, I think, that our [nonconference] schedule was really good,” said Batavia coach Dennis Piron, whose team beat Glenbard North before losing its first regular-season game since 2010 last week. “Kind of compared us to maybe Wheaton North. … I mean, people saw Wheaton North play [Geneva] and us play them. What do they think? Who was the more explosive, dynamic team?
“I really feel like we have an exceptional football team. Hard-working, good boys who play very, very hard.”
The Bulldogs were agitated about last week’s loss and delighted to take a crack at their archrivals on turf, armed with an athleticism advantage that became readily apparent. They blew Geneva off the ball throughout the early stages, needing only a quarter and 11 seconds to roar to a 21-0 lead.
As much as Batavia dominated most of the first half, the Vikings had it first-and-goal in the last minute of the second quarter with a chance to make it a one-score game at the break.
But Batavia’s Forrest Gilbertson picked off Geneva quarterback Daniel Santacaterina to preserve the Bulldogs’ 21-7 lead at halftime, and any remnants of momentum for Geneva were sucked out of Burgess Field when the Vikings were beaten to a pooch kick to start the second half. The Bulldogs recovered and put the game on lock-down with an Anthony Scaccia touchdown run three plays later.
Scaccia, Coffey and two-way standout Michael Moffatt were among numerous Bulldogs who looked a cut-above their opponents when it came to sheer explosiveness.
“I really felt we had the speed advantage coming into this game,” Coffey said. “Obviously playing a team like Richards last week really prepares us and really picks up our speed level to where [the game] kind of slows down because Richards is one of the fastest teams in the whole state.”
The Bulldogs did their best to put conference parity thoughts to rest with their in-command outing. Both St. Charles schools will have something to say about a potential Batavia three-peat, but the Bulldogs vaulted back into clear front-runner status, if there were any doubts leading up to Friday.
For Geneva, the season reaches an early turning point. The Vikings have generally been better than what they showed Friday, but at 1-2, any lingering pity or self-doubt could spell disastrous toward their playoff hopes.
Friday’s drubbing showed the Vikings aren’t conference championship material, but that doesn’t mean a successful, playoff season is beyond their grasp.
“They’ve got to understand this is a process,” Geneva coach Rob Wicinski said of his players. “I think they do. Like I’ve said from day one, there’s good football players here, we’re just a little immature at handling our stuff, protecting the ball. Things that mature teams don’t do.”
Midway through the fourth quarter, Batavia’s robust student section chanted “Why are you leaving?” at some of the Vikings fans who understandably had seen enough.
For Bulldogs-backers, though, the night was young.
In a rivalry that dates back 100 years, there haven’t been too many nights as perfectly suited for Bulldog woofing as this one.
• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or email@example.com.