Reading about the Corn Boil reminded me that we haven’t been to a Corn Boil in almost 15 years since our son Brian graduated from GHS. And we haven’t been to a Geneva football game for almost that long. Brian was in the band at the time and we’d go to watch the game and see the band perform at half-time.
Brian would get into his band uniform before we headed off to the game. The dog would take one look at him and go nuts. She would not stop barking. The same thing happened before every home game year after year. It became kind of a pre-game ritual. No matter how many times Ginger saw Brian in his band uniform, she would still bark. Maybe, like Lassie, she was trying to warn us about something, possibly the futility of going to Geneva football games.
The football team then was not what it is today. We lost to everybody. There was always plenty of room in the stands because I think only the families of the players, the cheerleaders, and the band members showed up. This was before assigned seats and winning seasons. Back then the half-time show consisted of the band playing Taps while the Geneva school flag was lowered to half-staff. You’d look around the stands and see the pained expressions of the fans as the game progressed to its merciful conclusion. Thank God that as Chicago sports fans we were conditioned to endure these types of seasons.
Our guys tried hard, but they were always over-matched and always seemed smaller than the other team. We particularly dreaded the games with arch rival Morris, who always kicked our butts. We used to wonder what they fed those farm boys that made them grow that big. One Morris player could have been our whole defensive line.
Looking at the Morris players I could see the wisdom of Bill Cosby’s high school football strategy. Staring into the eyes of a large and fierce-looking opponent, Cosby had an epiphany of sorts. He realized that the other player did not really want to hurt him. He only wanted the football. So Cosby gave him the football. This was not the game plan the coach had in mind and so Cosby’s high school football career ended quickly. But the Cosby game plan was probably about as effective as whatever game plan Geneva was using.
The Geneva football drought continued for the rest of the decade. We even had back-to-back winless seasons in 1998 and 1999. It wasn’t until 2003 that Geneva had its next winning season and that season ended on a sour note, losing to Batavia in a game that went to four overtimes. Since then the Vikings have been on a winning streak and attendance has soared. The football program has been so successful that people have been complaining about not being able to get seats.
Winning has become a tradition under Coach Rob Wicinski, who has 71 wins against 46 losses. Viking fans now expect to win. It’s far different from the bad old days when we lost to Morris year after year. Instead, Geneva has become the team that other teams lose to year after year. It may be time to start going to the games again if only we could find any seats.