Genoa-Kingston defense stops St. Francis
GENOA -- The Genoa-Kingston defense showed out once again in their 27-3 victory over a shorthanded St. Francis squad in the second round of the Class 4A football playoffs.
While the Cogs gave up a late field goal that ended a streak of four straight shutouts, the win marks their seventh game this season without allowing a touchdown.
"These kids on defense are a fun group to watch," Cogs coach Cam Davekos said. "They fly around, they make plays. They believe in themselves and believe in our game plan."
The exclamation point on a dominant performance for the Cogs came in the third quarter when back-to-back turnovers were quickly turned into points by Genoa-Kingston. Defensive back Brody Engel picked off a St. Francis pass and returned it for a 40-yard touchdown.
On the next Spartans snap, linebacker Aiden Vasak recovered a loose ball inside the 5-yard line that led to another Cogs score. Vasak also finished with 2 sacks.
Brody Engel, who also had 78 yards of total offense, spoke to the defensive preparation of the Cogs.
"(Coach Travis Fredrick) had great preparation for us this week," Engel said. "We saw those routes when we ran 7-on-7s earlier this week. We prepared ourselves very well. We just hold each other accountable. We're all meatheads and we just want to win. Defense wins games, defense wins championships and that's what we're going to do."
The Spartans were out of sync without regulars like running back Blake Lawson and quarterback Alessio Milivojevic.
"We got outcoached," Spartans coach Bob McMillen said. "That's a tough team that did everything right. They stopped us on offense, and we couldn't get moving. We have a lot of banged-up kids and just couldn't get moving the right way…You can't turn the ball over five times and win."
The Cogs struck first with a 19-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nolan Perry to running back Ethan Wilnau on their opening drive. Late in the first quarter, a punt by Genoa-Kingston was muffed and recovered by the Spartans inside the St. Francis 10.
G-K capitalized in the second quarter with a 1-yard touchdown dive by Chase Engel. Another fumble by the Spartans derailed a drive that put them past midfield, but G-K couldn't capitalize. After St. Francis blocked a Cogs field-goal attempt to close the second quarter, the Cogs lead stood at 14-0 at halftime.
The Cogs failed to capitalize on a fourth-down stop and an interception by defensive back Jake Oates early in the third, going three-and-out on both possessions. After the Brody Engel pick-6, Genoa-Kingston got a goal-to-go chance off a snap that went over the head of Spartans quarterback Jack Reilly.
Reilly gave the Spartans offense a boost in the fourth quarter, going 7-for-12 passing for 81 yards. A late drive looked promising for St. Francis, but the Spartans were forced to settle for a field goal from 41 yards out by kicker Cooper Winslow. Genoa-Kingston ran out the remaining five minutes of clock.
Genoa-Kingston advances to the quarterfinals to face the Joliet Catholic Academy.