The last thing Geneva's Reilly Waldoch expected heading into this season was to be the featured ball carrier for the Vikings come Week 7.
Normally a fullback, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior figured to be a blocking back clearing holes for others. Maybe he'd carry the ball 5 times per game. Ten on a good day. Perhaps he'd catch the occasional pass out of the backfield.
Then the season happened.
One tailback quit the team early on and three more were shelved by injury. Thus, Geneva turned to Waldoch out of pure need. And out of that desperation came inspiration in the form of Friday's 28-6 win over Elgin at Memorial Field.
Measuring each step on slippery grass, Waldoch carried 27 times for 171 yards and 2 touchdowns to lead keep Geneva's playoff hopes alive.
"It's an honor to be the Geneva running back," Walcoch said. "They've always had a good back in the past so it's good to keep the legacy going."
Missing cornerback/wideout Garret Sneed due to injury and safety Ian Hanson for personal reasons, short-handed Geneva (4-3, 3-2) outgained Elgin (2-5, 1-2) 366 total yards to 203 prevail in the Upstate Eight River.
Quarterback Bobby Murray completed 10 of 15 attempts for 204 yards and 2 touchdowns, both to wide receiver Jacob Temple, a 6-foot-4 senior who took advantage of a size mismatch to make 5 receptions for 134 yards.
"He just really did his job getting the ball out to me and I just had to go make a play on it," Temple said of his quarterback.
After missing the playoffs last fall for the first time in four seasons and only the second time since 2004, the Vikings can become playoff eligible next week with a win at league co-leader St. Charles North (6-1, 4-0). They finish the season at home against West Aurora (5-2).
The win over Elgin was a confidence boost on the heels of last week's 49-0 loss to Batavia.
"After having bad things happen to you last week against the rivals, it was a good week of practice," Geneva coach Rob Wicinski said. "I was pleased with the way we responded. We are who we are. They just kept fighting. We're a little limited at spots but we also showed some nice character."
The Maroons were limited to 127 yards of total offense outside of a 76-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown run by Trevon Morris that allowed Elgin to avoid the shutout on homecoming.
Elgin coach Anthony Mason said his team had a bad practice week and it showed on game day.
"We're making the same mistakes from the first week and we're in the seventh week now," said Mason, who, like Wicinski, played college football at Northern Illinois. "We don't feel like we were 28-6 to this team. We thought we had a great chance. We saw the holes and we wanted to attack the holes."
We were literally throwing bubbles with (defenders) 15 yards off the ball and the ball was going into the dirt, the ball was going overhead. It's wet and rainy, but we were transferring balls in and we had fresh balls in buckets so that's not an excuse.
"It's a matter of execution. How do you execute better? You execute every single day. You make the mistakes earlier in the week so come Friday you're able to not make those mistakes. It's not happening. It's not happening.
"So, it's a matter of continuing to work at it and committing to get better every day. We don't have everybody on board with that. Everybody, from the staff to the players, has to work hard Saturday through Friday night to get this turned around and be successful."