While a lot of other teams in Patchland are celebrating their playoff berths and figuring out the match-ups along the way, Geneva players, coaches and fans are, for the first time in a lot of years, figuring what to do with the extra time off.
Finishing 4-5 is an unusual feeling for the Vikings, who had been riding the wave of a winning record since 2003.
"It's refeshing in some ways," coach Rob Wicinski said after the last football game of 2012.
Refreshing? Did he say, "refreshing"?
Yes, refreshing. And something to be proud of. Because this team, and the seniors, never gave up.
Geneva faced three blockbuster opponents in the first three games of the season—Oswego, Wheaton North and Batavia—all of them playoff contenders. Then the Vikings had to run the gauntlet of St. Charles—both away games against friendly rivals that included a playoff-bound St. Charles East.
The result? An 0-5 start.
"At first you think it's a bummer, and you don't know how the kids are going to react," Wicinski said after that final game. "But they did not blink, they did not waiver. They kept practicing hard, they kept doing what we asked them."
And through it all, they showed a maturity and character that Geneva teams haven't had to dig for in recent seasons.
"That's a heavy heavy burden, the torch of a program that's been very successful. And to not to be very very successful—it's tough, and they handled it really, really well.
"The demeanor is what impressed me. They had no choice—except to quit, and they didn't make that choice."
What's impressive, too, is the attitude of the coaching staff and the understanding that football is just a game—but a game that can teach valuable lessons.
Sometimes those lessons last a lifetime.
"I told them: This isn't the end. If you start looking for the 'last' in everything you do, your life is not going to be fulfilled. This is a continuation of the great things you're going to be doing in your life," Wicinski said. "So this is just a continuation for these seniors, and I wanted to make sure they understood that. Sometimes you hear 'Oh, this is the last kickoff. This is the last play. This is the last bus ride.'
"It's never a 'last.' It's just another opportunity, another moment coming."
Congratulations, Vikings, for an excellent 2012 football season, and good luck in all the moments to come.
- Geneva Vikings Football 2012
- GAME DAY: Vikings Face Big Challenge Against Elgin Larkin at Home
- FOOTBALL GAME DAY: Season in Balance as Vikings Face North Stars Under Friday Night Lights
- GAME DAY: Geneva Vs. St. Charles East—A Rivalry Revisited
- FOOTBALL FINAL: Vikings Beat Metea Valley in 61-48 Barnburner
- FOOTBALL FINAL: Wild Finish for a Wild Season—Vikings Top Sabres 35-34 in Double OT