Geneva's defense dominates Glenbard North
If you didn't know better, one might have thought the football field at Glenbard North was tilted in Geneva's direction Friday night.
While the Vikings' defense held the Panthers to just 1 first down and 32 yards of total offense in the opening half, the offense mounted 5 touchdown drives while building a 34-0 halftime lead.
Geneva improved to 5-0 overall, 3-0 in DuKane Conference play, with the eventual 41-13 victory over the Panthers (0-5, 0-3) in Carol Stream.
"Our defense has been playing really well," said Vikings coach Boone Thorgesen. "We have quite a bit of seniors out there. They're a fast defense. They're a smart defense. I think that's huge in high school -- you must be a smart defense, and our coaches do a great job.
"They've been doing it all year. They gave us great field position in the first half, and we were able to capitalize on a few of those drives."
Led by linebackers Charle Winterhalter, Tommy Diamond, linemen Rocco DiLeonardi, Rino Bianchi, and defensive backs Matt Abraham and Brady McCaffrey, the Vikings' defense forced 7 first-half punts and helped put the offense in business throughout the opening half.
Senior quarterback Nate Stempowski's 9-yard touchdown pass to Finnegan Weppner capped a 6-play, 52-yard drive to give the Vikings an early 7-0 lead.
Following the Panthers' third straight 3-and-out series, the Vikings marched 62 yards in 4 plays, highlighted by Michael Rumoro's 21-yard touchdown run to make it 13-0.
From there, Stempowski and junior wide receiver Talyn Taylor took over.
Stempowski connected with Taylor on touchdown passes covering 28 and 3 yards before adding a 6-yard touchdown run on a keeper with 6.1 seconds remaining in the first half.
"We really didn't know what we were doing," said Stempowski of the last-second TD. "I just made something happen."
Stempowski completed 11 of 17 passes for 169 yards and 3 touchdowns, while adding 27 yards rushing on just 2 carries in his one half of play.
"The first series was a little rough (3 straight incompletions) but after that it was like the beginning of a roller coaster -- kept going up and it felt good after that," said Stempowski. "It's amazing when you have a defense that gives you the ball in amazing position, and your O-line is doing the job, along with the wide receivers and Mikey (Loberg), too, at tight end. I can always count on him."
Taylor (8 catches, 185 yards), the Vikings' talented junior receiver/punt returner, finished his night with a 70-yard touchdown catch of a pass from backup quarterback Anthony Chahino on the first play of the second half.
"It's very nice to have him," said Thorgesen. "He's (also) a (kick/punt) returner who is as dangerous as any kid in the state of Illinois."
"He's my guy," Stempowski said of Taylor. "He can do it all. I know that wherever he's at, I can trust him."
The Panthers got second-half touchdown runs from Lucas Kramer and Treshon Williams against the Vikings' reserves.
Geneva plays host to rival Batavia (4-1, 3-0) Friday night.
"We're going to enjoy tonight, but we do know that it's going to be a great crowd next week," said Thorgesen. "We're going to play a tremendous football team in Batavia -- as they always are.
"We hope we have a great week of practice, so we'll be ready on Friday."