Scouting the Geneva Vikings
The Geneva football team wants to open this season the way last season closed.
Following an 0-6 start to the 2018 campaign, the Vikings won their final three games against DuKane Conference foes Wheaton North, Lake Park and Glenbard North. Those victories served as a springboard to a highly productive off-season, 21st-year coach Rob Wicinski said.
Though the program returns only two full-time starters on each side of the ball and the roster of 44 is light on seniors (14), Geneva hopes to surprise.
"We knew this smaller senior class was coming for years, but these seniors are good boys," Wicinski said. "They've stuck it out and worked hard. No one gives us a chance because we'll be really young, but I think it'll be interesting. We just need a few of these younger guys to pop early to get our wheels underneath us."
The juniors, sophomores and freshmen are participating in healthy numbers, so Wicinski expects the varsity roster to return to a more Geneva-like 60 next year and beyond. The question for now is whether this year's squad, which returns no starting offensive linemen, can compete with the top teams in a conference that last year produced a state runner-up, semifinalist and quarterfinalist.
The two returning starters on offense are both juniors who played varsity football as sophomores: wide receiver Michael Ignoffo (5-foot-8, 140 pounds) and tailback Matt Osborne (6-0, 165). Junior Ethan Mayer will see time at tailback as well, Wicinski said. Senior fullback Jacob Costello saw significant playing time last season. Junior Konnor Mickelsen is a speedy wide receiver to complement Ignoffo.
The job of getting the ball to those receivers falls to junior quarterback Hayden McCoy (6-1, 185). He has been a team leader in the weight room and "the players love him and they'll follow him, so that's three quarters of the battle," his coach said.
The Vikings intend to use a short passing game to move the chains, maintain possession, shorten the game and get their speedy skilled players in open space to break the occasional big play.
"We've got some real good perimeter speed guys," Wicinski said. "It's just a matter of getting the ball out to them and protecting the quarterback."
The defense returns Costello at linebacker and end Hank Smith (6-2, 210), who is having "a really nice preseason," according to his coach
Wicinski said a pair of junior safeties -- Brody Goodspeed and John Petit -- will be key for a defense that regularly features five defensive backs.
Much like the offense, Geneva's 4-2-5 defense is young and relatively inexperienced heading into the season opener at Notre Dame.
"We'll have our hands full, no doubt," Wicinski said of the opener. "Who knows if the juniors will travel well or get all pie-eyed. You never know how they're going to react, but we'll answer a lot of questions in Week 1. I'm anxious to see how the juniors react. I want them to go in and fight. Then we'll make adjustments and get ready for Kaneland in Week 2."