Two teams with playoff aspirations. Two teams with a long history of football success. Two teams a lot on the line at the line of scrimmage Friday night.
That's the contest awaiting football fans as the Geneva Vikings face off against the Oswego Panthers in the first football game of the season, at Oswego.
Last year, the Panthers came to Geneva and handed the Vikings their hats, 47-21 at Burgess Field, and the sad truth is that the game wasn't as close as the final score. Geneva fumbled the ball six times and found themselves on the wrong end of a 40-point lead and a running play clock in the second half.
To give Oswego credit, some of those fumbles were caused by designed plays. At least twice on kickoffs, the Panthers made chip-shot kicks that were in dead spots or aimed at green players, resulting in quick turnovers and scores. You can watch last year's game on YouTube, courtesy of Rising Up Sports. The Vikings started with a 7-0 lead, so you can stop watch after the first couple minutes, if you're a Geneva fan.
Will things be different this year?
The Vikings can't be counted on to play as sloppily, but the Panthers have home field advantage this time around and are rated the 39th-best team in the state of Illinois, according to MaxPreps. Geneva's not on the radar of best teams in the state, finishing 4-5 in 2012 compared to Oswego's 9-2.
Geneva, of course, has the same wicked schedule it did a year ago. The first three teams — Oswego, Wheaton North and Batavia — had a combined 2012 record of 28-5 (9-2, 10-2, 9-1, respectively) and all three made the playoffs.
The conventional wisdom is that Geneva needs to win at least one of those first three games to have a shot at the playoffs. Two of those three would be sweet, indeed. And all three, well, you can imagine what the pundits would say if the Vikings were to pull that off.