HARPERSFIELD TOWNSHIP —
The fact Perry and Geneva are renewing a rivalry that had been put on mothballs like a once-proud battleship since 2005 makes tonight’s non-conference clash at Spire Stadium intriguing.
But throw in the fact the Eagles have not defeated the Pirates on the gridiron since the Indians were in the process of driving toward a World Series championship and it makes it darn right special.
That’s correct, Geneva has not beaten Perry in football since a 25-0 win on its home turf on Friday, Sept. 17, 1948 by Hall of Fame coach Bruno Mallone’s Eagles.
While that is ancient history, the more prevalent past is what transpired Friday night.
Perry hosted Riverside and pounded the Beavers, 22-8, while Geneva invaded and conquered Edgewood, 25-13.
Both Pirates coach Matt Rosati and Eagles coach Tony Hassett are pleased to see the series, which started in 1930 with a 7-7 tie and was put on hold after a 35-7 Perry win at Memorial Field in 2005, be rekindled. The Pirates lead this matchup, 10-8-3.
“It will be a great atmosphere,” Rosati said. “Any time local teams get to compete, is always fun.”
“It is nice to be playing a crosstown rival,” Hassett said. “That is what keeps the communities involved and keeps the student bodies’ interest high.”
The two coaches were pleased to see their squads kick off their respective campaigns by putting notches on their belts.
Perry made a 15-8 lead after one quarter stand up in avenging an opening loss to Riverside last year.
“I was pleasantly surprised with how fast we played on defense,” Rosati said. “We really flew to the ball. It was really great to see that on film.
“It was great for our kids to beat a quality team like Riverside. Our kids felt they could play with them, but they did have some nerves and butterflies. But once they got their feet under them, they really took off.”
Ryan Kahoun’s 113 yards rushing led the Perry ground assault against Riverside, one which produced 260 yards on 40 carries. Conversely, the Pirate defense knocked Riverside quarterback Maxx Brubaker (shoulder) out of the game and limited the Beavers to a suffocating minus-26 yards rushing on 34 attempts.
Geneva broke from a 6-6 tie after one quarter, scoring 19 unanswered points, in also avenging an opening loss, to Edgewood.
Junior tailback Aaron Rossi led the charge for the Eagles, rumbling for 213 yards on 30 carries and scored three touchdowns. While allowing Edgewood to amass 401 yards of total offense, the Geneva defense nabbed three interceptions and recovered a fumble.
“I liked our focus and intensity for the game, from start to finish,” Hassett said. “We had some breakdowns in the secondary. But we never hung our heads. We just came back on the next play. We actually did what we wanted to on defense in that we were not going to let Riis Smith beat us.
“They hurt us a little with our inexperience but we our proud of the way our players responded. Our offensive line did a good job for the first game. We were able to control them up front and control the temple of the game. Defensively, I thought we got after them pretty good and controlled the line of scrimmage.”
Hassett said the first-game win was important.
“We knew this was going to be a big game,” he said. “They were a playoff team from last year with the majority of their team coming back. It was their home opener. They were having pep rallies, and bomb fires getting their players and community fired up to play Geneva .
“We were certainly heading into a hostile environment. We knew we had to create some turnovers and take advantage of them. This gave us momentum and allowed to control the time factor of the game.”
Rosati sees plenty to like on the opposing sideline this week.
“Geneva is a very good football team — they love to run the ball and Rossi is a very impressive runner,” he said. “He is very powerful and refuses to go down.
“Defensively, they are very well coached and fast. The defensive tackles are as good a we will see this year. It will be a great challenge to move the ball and an ever bigger challenge to bring down a great running back like Rossi. They also have an experienced quarterback in Brandon Pakkala and a really good offensive line.
“I am very impressed with how good Geneva is.”
Hassett feels much the same about Perry.
“Perry is a team that runs multiple offensive formations — from the spread to the wing-T,” he said. “They also have a number of trick plays to try to confuse teams and get a possible quick score. We have to be extra sharp this week and not be out of position and expect anything at anytime.
“Their quarterback, Ryan Kahoun, is an outstanding runner and throws the ball efficiently well,” he continued. “They have a very good defensive tackle-fullback in Kyle Kremiller. He is a hard runner and is relentless on defense. They have good speed in Zack Hurd and other receivers. Their tight end, Luke Farrell, is very athletic and good size (6-foot-5, 220 pounds). They are a talented team.
“We will have to be at are best this week.”
The two coaches have laundry lists of what must be accomplished for their squads to move to 2-0, something Perry last accomplished in 2011 and Geneva in 2009.
“We will have to limit Rossi’s touches on offense, which means that we will have to be very efficient on offense,” Rosati said. “We cannot make mistakes with the football. We will have to make sure that the other positions do not beat us. We will have to win the special-teams battle. We did a poor job against Riverside in that area and it could have cost us the game.”
“We must be ready to play from start to finish, we cannot allow the big play to beat us,” Hassett countered. “They are well coached. We must be able to create some turnovers and take advantage of them as we did last week.
“Finally, we must be able to execute our game plan. If we can do that, we should have a good chance of winning.”