The road gets longer and no easier Friday for Yorkville’s football team.
Coach Karl Hoinkes and his undefeated Foxes will board their buses to make the two-hour, 110-mile trek to Geneseo to face one of the most storied programs in the state in a Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference crossover.
How good has Geneseo been?
Coach Larry Johnsen Jr.’s Maple Leafs climbed to 5-0 and insured the program’s 52nd straight winning season with last week’s 17-0 win over Rochelle, a team Yorkville beat 38-24 in Week 3.
It’s a stretch that includes five coaches who all had winning percentages of .767 or better: Bob Reade 1962-78 (147-19-1), Larry Johnsen Sr. 1979-86 (77-14-1), Vic Boblett 1987-90 (36-9), Denny Diericx 1991-2004 (120-30) and Johnsen Jr. 2004-present (92-28).
Since the IHSA instituted football playoffs in 1974, Geneseo has taken part 37 of 40 years. The three they didn’t make it, the team went 7-2, 5-4 and 5-4.
Heck, Geneseo even has two nicknames. It’s also dubbed the “Green Machine.”
“Looks like you’re facing the (Green Bay) Packers,” Bears fan Hoinkes said of the league’s West Division power.
“My favorite color is not green.”
But he does have much respect for the opponent, known for its double-wing offense that is also used by Rochelle.
“Coach Reade brought it in in the 1960s (before moving on to Augustana College) and they run the same thing, although each coach tweaks it a little bit,” Hoinkes said. “But from Day 1, when they’re Mighty Mites, they learn that system.”
Johnsen has his quarterback — 6-1, 175 senior Greg Rusk — sometimes take snaps in the pistol position.
“He’s a pretty good passer, too,” Hoinkes said. “They’ll use double tight ends and they’ll try to establish the run. They have a great fullback (Ryan Pitra) and great speed with their halfbacks (Joey Medina, among others).”
Drew Himmelman, a 6-4 tight end/defensive lineman, had an interception return for a touchdown and a 20-yard pass reception for another in a win over LaSalle-Peru, when Rusk went 4-for-4 for 103 yards passing.
“It’s a great program,” Hoinkes said. “They’re the only show in town. The kids are well-mannered and they play hard.
“It’s pretty impressive. You drive into town and there’s signs on all the lawns and on all the businesses. Heck, a couple years ago when we were there they even had a flyover at the start of the game.”
And back in 2008, four local businesses pitched in and combined to donate $100,000 to buy a new scoreboard for Bob Reade Field featuring a video board, the first at an Illinois high school facility.
Hoinkes will counter with workhorse tailback Michael Kurtz, who has rushed for 951 yards and 13 touchdowns but is backed up by Henry Imburgia, who’s also capable of topping the century mark rushing in a game.
They’re complemented by the Foxes’ passing game, highlighted by 6-3 Tynan Leachman, favorite target of QB Nathan Scott.
He’ll be fine
Word from Oswego is that RB Treshon Weddington will be ready to go for Friday’s rivalry game at Oswego East. He left last week’s game with back spasms after rushing for 168 of his 728 yards.