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Freshman QB Derr helps Geneva to 1st win
By Dave Heun | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 9/15/2012 12:47 AM

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It wasn’t as if Geneva’s 56-23 win over visiting Larkin on Friday night could be measured in Biblical proportions, but the verse “and a child shall lead them” may ring true for the Vikings for the rest of the season.

For the first time that any observer of Geneva football could remember, a freshman quarterback, Nick Derr, took the majority of snaps as the banged-up Vikings notched their first win of the season in the Upstate Eight clash.

While Derr didn’t do too bad for himself, in tossing two touchdown passes, this night belonged to senior halfback Bobby Hess who came as close to the Biblical stuff as possible in rushing for 236 yards and five touchdowns while sitting out most of the second half when Geneva enjoyed a huge lead.

Geneva (1-3, 1-1) needed a major boost from someone after limping home from Batavia the previous week with three straight losses and starting quarterback Daniel Santacaterina suffering a potentially season-ending collarbone fracture. The sophomore quarterback joined a growing list of injured Vikings.

“This was a really rough stretch and I am really proud of the kids for the way they handled this adversity,” Geneva coach Rob Wicinski said. “We were bleeding bad, so this (win) was definitely a tourniquet to help us out.”

Hess made it known quickly that there would be no further bleeding for the Vikings on this night. He racked up all of the yards on Geneva’s opening 78-yard scoring drive, with the last 54 coming on an end run after he found his original off-tackle running lane clogged.

He followed up that explosion with a 4-yard scoring run with just over five minutes left in the opening quarter, and another 8-yard touchdown burst just before the quarter ended.

But the best was yet to come. With Geneva’s defense, sparked by Doug Davis and Cody Murphy, stifling Larkin’s offense, the Vikings opened their first drive of the second half at their own 17-yard line. It meant that Hess would ramble 80 yards moments later for his fourth touchdown, this one aided by a monstrous block from wide receiver Kyle Brown in the secondary.

When he capped his dominating first half with a 3-yard touchdown run, Geneva was coasting with a 42-7 halftime lead. Larkin’s lone score came on a Maurece Jackson’s 54-yard run.

“The offensive line opened huge holes tonight and it was just awesome, they really improved this week,” Hess said of his blocking brigade.

“The coaches told us to play hard and the line did a great job,” Hess added. “It was a lot of fun tonight getting the ball a lot.”

It was fun, alright, as Hess helped his team compile 383 yards rushing on a night when the passing game was going to be tested because of Geneva’s quarterbacking situation.

Derr split time with junior T.J. Miller much of the first half, before settling in as the signal caller the entire second half.

For his night, Derr completed only 2 of 4 passes for 36 yards, but both completions resulted in scores — a 17-yard high-lofting toss that the 6-4 Brown leaped to pull in with 9 seconds left in the first half, and a 19-yard strike on a rollout to a sliding Pace Temple in the end zone in the third quarter.

“Brown is a monster, he knows how to play,” Derr said of his target on his first varsity touchdown pass.

If Derr was nervous about joining the varsity fray, he didn’t show it.

“I was thinking to just do my best for the team and try to help the team get its first victory,” Derr said. “The game was fast and the varsity guys are pretty big, but I got used to that in the first practice.”

Fullback Joe Boenzi tallied the other Viking score with a 54-yard jaunt of his own in the third quarter.

Larkin (2-2, 1-1) got a strong effort from Jackson, who finished with 157 yards in 15 carries and 3-yard touchdown run to go along with his 54-yard scoring scamper, but the Royals also lacked for a passing attack, with quarterback Kemmerin Blalark completing only 2 of 10 passes for 40 yards. Mario Randazzo scored the Royals’ final TD on a 3-yard plunge.

“A reporter asked me during the week if I thought we would be quick on this (artificial) turf, and I said, no they’re going to be,” Larkin coach Mike Scianna said. “Geneva was very fast tonight and we weren’t able to match that speed.”

Scianna said he told his players that if they allowed Hess to get into the second level of the defense that “he’s going to go.”

“And he did,” Scianna said. “He is a very good running back, and you have to give him his due.”

For Geneva, Wicinski is hoping the victory rights the ship enough to give his team a shot at rebounding to make the playoffs by season’s end.

“We’ll just keep working the freshman kid (Derr), and hopefully we came out of tonight’s game healthy,” Wicinski said. “Every time I turn around, somebody else goes down, so it’s been a crazy season, and I have never been through anything like this before.”