Quarterback Matt Williams leads Geneva into one of the more interesting first-round playoff games, a Class 7A road game Saturday at Lake Zurich.
Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer
It's an astounding fact Geneva is 13-0 in first-round playoff football games.
"My staff has got a good demeanor," said Vikings coach Rob Wicinski. "They don't get too high, they don't get too low. I just think that consistency of behavior is in our approach to our games."
He then admitted: "You've got to be a little lucky, too."
The Vikings' unblemished beginnings and good fortunes will be put to an extreme test when No. 9 seed Geneva (7-2) hits the road to face Class 7A usual suspect No. 8 Lake Zurich (7-2) at 1 p.m. Saturday.
It may be the Comcast "Game of the Week," but it's Geneva's opponent of the year.
"They're very well coached, they're extremely fast, and this reminds me of a second-, third-round game in the level of intensity," Wicinski said.
Lake Zurich, which lost to Cary-Grove and Stevenson, typically plays well into November. Coach Bryan Stortz's Bears, who ran a 3-5 defense before it became popular, lost 28-17 to Wheaton Warrenville South in last year's 7A title game. The Bears beat WW South 7-3 in 2007 and finished second in 2006 under Stortz. The last time they got bounced in the first round was by St. Charles East in 2008.
Bears quarterback Zach Till had a school-record 5 touchdown runs in last week's 41-3 win over Zion-Benton. Till is second on the Bears in rushing behind 175-pound senior Mike Shield. Junior Connor Schrader completes the trio.
Wicinski depicted the offense as "schizophrenic": "They'll go double-wing and the next thing you know they go five-wide or spread," he said.
Lake Zurich has had its share of top-notch athletes on the offensive side of the ball, but a hallmark has been its defense. Blazing fast yet again, the Bears have allowed an average of 8.1 points a game, fourth among all 7A teams.
"We're going to go right at them," Wicinski said. "We're going to line up and go mano-a-mano and see what happens. If they've got the better boys we'll tip our hat and walk away."
Geneva tailback Parker Woodworth is a workhorse, having carried 153 times for 1,044 yards and 21 touchdowns. He'll get the carries between left tackle Jacob Bastin and right tackle Connor Chapman. Wicinski said they those juniors are integral to limiting the penetration of Lake Zurich defensive tackles William Hussey and Rocky Triggiano.
Along with Northern Illinois-bound quarterback Matt Williams calling his own number for 415 yards and 8 touchdowns on the ground, the Vikings' offense clicks when running back Bobby Hess gets the ball. He averages 11.5 yards per carry and 32.4 yards on kickoff returns, including an 88-yard touchdown return in Geneva's 50-6 Week 9 clocking of Larkin.
Wicinski sees a good passing game from Williams. That means connecting with Ben Rogers, a big-play receiver with 26 catches for 576 yards (22.2 per catch) and 5 touchdowns.
When playoff pairings were announced Wicinski said he was excited about the draw, that the point is to play the best. Should the Vikings move to 14-0 in first-round games they'll probably advance to play heavyweight Glenbard West.
"Now, talk to me after the game, ask me how much fun it was," Wicinski said. "You get what you wish for."