The way the Vikings played Friday night brought to mind of a line from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid:
Geneva was a different team under the Friday-night lights, literally and figuratively. Not only did the Vikings have a bunch of different faces and names on the field, but they didn't look anything like the team that was handed three straight defeats to start the season.
Hosting Larkin—a team that went into the game 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the Upstate Eight River Division—the Vikings jumped to a 21-0 lead after the first quarter and never looked back.
Butch Cassidy: I couldn't do that. Could you do that? Why can they do it? ... Who are those guys?
Bobby Hess had a career in the first half. He scored five touchdowns and ran for circa 220 yards. Geneva racked up 291 yards in the first two quarters.
And just to make things interesting, Coach Rob Wicinksi decides to bring up his freshman quarterback. With nine seconds left in the half, Nick Derr lofted a pretty 17-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Brown to give Geneva the comfortable 42-7 halftime lead. Derr came in after T.J. Miller started the game, in place of Dan Santacaterina, who suffered a broken collarbone the week before against Batavia.
Butch Cassidy: [after looking for himself] They're beginning to get on my nerves. Who are those guys?
For awhile, it looked like Geneva was going to hold Larkin scoreless. It was four-and-out or five-and-out for four of the first five series for the Royals. Contrast that to the first three games of the season—in which the Vikings were outscored 47-21 by Oswego, 34-7 at Wheaton North and 35-21 at Batavia.
"I think the hardest part was, just, we were lacking evidence and support that we’re OK," Wicinski said after the game. "This will help tremendously, just to say, yeah, we’re all right. We can win a football game. The things that you’re doing are the right things, and it will pay off if you just keep working hard."
Geneva started the second half with a 53-yard touchdown run up the middle by Joe Boenzi. By that time, it was 49-7 with a running clock.
On the following kickoff, the Vikings forced a fumble and Alex Kunkel scooped it up. The Vikings scored immediately, when Derr hit Temple, who made a nifty, sliding, 17-yard catch. The score at that point: 56-7.
Butch Cassidy: He always wears a white skimmer. That's how you tell it's Joe Lefors, 'cause he always wears a white straw hat. Look at that guy out front.
[Butch and Sundance start running]
Butch Cassidy: ... Who are those guys?
The Vikings are still banged up, and T.J. Miller might have hurt an ankle. But if there was any doubt after the first three games, the Vikings erased it. They ran hard, played tough defense, came up with some creative playmaking and made few mistakes.
Geneva looked a lot like, well, Geneva.
And, for the first time at the new Burgess Field, the varsity gathered in front of the home stands and sang the Geneva Fight Song.
"It feels great," Wicinski said. "Maybe we've been taking the wins for granted a little bit. I’d forgotten what that was all about, the first time we sang —10 years ago, 12 years ago? I mean, that was a big deal whenever we had the chance to sing. And this was a big deal tonight for us."
SCORE BY QUARTER
- Geneva: 21-21-14-0—56
- Elgin Larkin: 0-7-8-8—23
- #8 Pace Temple — 12 yards, 1 carry
- #16 Jason Soto — 13 yards, 3 carries
- #17 Nick Derr — (-)4 yards, 2 carries
- #22 Joe Boenzi — 84 yards, 4 carries, 1 TD
- #27 Zach Deem — 14 yards, 5 carries
- #28 Daniel Coral — 13 yards, 3 carries
- #32 Bobby Hess — 246 yards, 21 carries, 5 TDs
- #17 Nick Derr — 2-of-4 for 36 yards, 2 TDs
- #8 Pace Temple —1 catch, 19 yards, 1 TD
- #15 Kyle Brown —1 catch, 15 yards, 1 TD
Corrections: (1) The original version of this story said Nick Derr played quarterback in that same night. He did not. Mike Landi played quarterback for the sophs Friday. (2) A 53-yard run by Joe Boenzi was incorrectly credited to Pace Temple.