Chad Wilmarth is usually the last person to look ahead, but the Genoa-Kingston football coach said the final three games of the regular season definitely stood out.
With the first leg of the gauntlet finished, the Cogs prepare to take on Byron in another key Big Northern Conference showdown.
The (7-0 overall and BNC) Cogs beat Dixon last week, 35-12, to remain undefeated and now face Byron (6-1, 6-1), which reached a state championship game last year and has been defeated only by Stillman Valley – which is not only undefeated still but is the Cogs’ Week 9 opponent.
“We’ve kind of been talking about taking it one game at a time, getting 1% better each day,” Wilmarth said. “But you look at those last three and see how tough they are. Now Dixon is in the books, so we can focus on taking care of Byron and then taking care of Stillman Valley. It’s no secret the success Byron has had, making the state championship last year. They are well coached and physical. We just have to do our jobs well.”
The Tigers reached the Class 3A title game last year, losing to Monticello, 24-20. They had rampaged through their first three games, playing only one game that was decided by fewer than four touchdowns – a 21-14 win at Genoa in Week 8.
And while Wilmarth said that’s definitely a mild source of confidence for the Cogs, it was last year.
“Obviously, you’d like to be playing for a state championship, but when you’re watching the [Class] 3A title game, and you see the teams everyone has played pop up on the screen, you see G-K played them the closest,” Wilmarth said. “That’s something we can look at. But we want to try and get better and continue to improve.”
Both teams enter the game with punishing ground games out of a Wing-T attack. Issac Stickler has rushed for 712 yards this year, with Dayne Snodgrass racking up 616. The Cogs use more of a three-player attack, with quarterback Justin Peters leading the way with 569 yards.
The two quarterbacks have combined to attempt 69 passes – 33 for Peters, 36 for Ben Carlson.
Among BNC teams, only Byron has scored more points than Genoa-Kingston this year.
“You look at their high-powered offense and the points they put up,” Wilmarth said. “They have so many great players in the backfield. The toss for us is the No. 1 target to stop. We have to limit big plays, whether it’s the toss, the double dive or whether they do some rocket toss stuff.”
Wilmarth said the game will be decided in the trenches in the battle between the Tigers’ offensive line and the Cogs’ defensive line.
“They snap off the ball so well our [defensive] line will have a test,” Wilmarth said. “It’s going to come down to the guys that get their hands in the dirt, which team comes out on the better side of it.”