Ever since they were only 7 years old, Tom Havlovic and Alan Geneva have been playing catch.
All of the chemistry they have built up since they were youngsters was on full display Friday night in Northlake.
Havlovic threw for 4 touchdowns, 3 of which went to Geneva, as Fenton nipped host Leyden 30-29 in the season opener for both teams.
"They have been playing catch with one another since they were little," said Fenton coach Mark Kos. "Geneva doesn't know any other quarterbacks and Havlovic doesn't really know who to throw to besides Geneva. But you can't blame them because it's a great connection."
Havlovic did plenty with his arm but it was the play that he made with his feet that was the game changer. After battling back from a 29-14 fourth quarter deficit, the Bison still trailed 29-28 midway through the fourth quarter with a 2-point conversion coming. As Havlovic attempted his pass, a Leyden defender tipped the ball, but Havlovic snatched it out of the air and raced to the end zone for 2 points to set the final margin.
"I'm slow so I sprinted as hard as I could and stretched as far as I could," Havlovic said. "I knew I got in."
Both teams battled first game jitters as several botched snaps led to some sloppy play early on but Geneva got the scoring going for both teams in the second quarter as the senior caught a ball over the middle and raced 36 yards for the score.
"I thought we were going to get an interception but Geneva made a nice play," said Leyden head coach Tom Cerasani. "I don't take anything away from him."
The Eagles answered on the ensuring possession when senior quarterback Joe Difronzo scored from a yard out. But Geneva squashed any momentum Leyden had with an 80-yard score on the next play from scrimmage.
"Geneva single handedly beat us," Cerasani said.
After a Javier Rhoades touchdown tied the score at 14 just before halftime, the Eagles dominated the third quarter behind the running of junior Mickey Gulo and the precision passing of Difronzo.
Trailing 29-14 to open the fourth quarter and their backs against the wall, the Bison responded. A 41-yard gain by Geneva set up his third touchdown from 10 yards out with 11:55 remaining before Havlovic led the game winning drive, finally connecting in the end zone with senior Frank DiLauro from 3 yards out with 5:16 remaining. Havlovic's legs took care of the rest.
"Earlier today, the coaches made a point about us staying together, and that's what we did," Geneva said. "We feel like we can come back whenever we are down."
In all, Geneva tallied 271 yards on 12 catches while Havlovic threw for 308 yards.
For Leyden, missed opportunities in Fenton's half of the field ultimately determined their fate.
"These are young guys that didn't really have an understanding of how this was going to go tonight," Cerasani said. "It took us a good quarter for the offense to get going. I thought we had it going in the second half but we didn't capitalize on big plays. That's a lot to do with having a young team and not having that killer instinct."