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The ‘fun’ bunch: Nate Stempowski throws 5 TD passes as Geneva rallies from early deficit to cruise past Kaneland. ‘It was fun.’

Geneva coach Boone Thorgesen threw a lot of touchdown passes while manning Kaneland’s run-and-gun offense in high school.

Coaching in his first game against his alma mater, Thorgesen watched junior quarterback Nate Stempowski have a monster game of his own Friday night.

“It’s kind of crazy because I usually run a lot,” Stempowski said. “This time I came out passing and threw the ball well and our receivers got open.

“Coach put some good plays together — got guys open and made the plays successful. It was fun.”

Geneva’s Nate Stempowski (3) outruns Kaneland’s Anthony Urban (24) for a first down during a game in Maple Park on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022. (H. Rick Bamman / The Beacon-News)

How fun? Stempowski tossed five touchdown passes in leading the visiting Vikings to a 38-14 nonconference victory over Kaneland.

Last season, Stempowski led the sophomore team to a 9-0 record before being called up to varsity to be a wide receiver in the playoffs. He was a natural, scoring two TDs.

“He started running routes and he was like, ‘I can run that route,’” Thorgesen said of Stempowski. “He could run that route. He’s an athlete.”

Stempowski did run for 65 yards on 11 carries Friday, all coming in the first half for Geneva (2-0). He was efficient with his throwing, completing 13 of 15 passes for 211 yards.

“We can build on that,” Thorgesen said. “When you have a kid that can run it and throw it, it’s so hard to defend on the defensive side. He’s a great player. He’s a dynamic quarterback. He’s just going to get better and better.

“It’s fun to watch him play. I’m so proud of him. He’s worked so hard. You’re seeing what we saw in the summer.”

Kaneland’s Troyer Carlson (10) tosses a touchdown pass to Dominick DeBlasio in the first quarter of a game in Maple Park on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022. (H. Rick Bamman / The Beacon-News)

Kaneland (1-1) jumped out to an early 7-0 lead as Troyer Carlson hit Dominick DeBlasio for a 69-yard TD only 1: 37 into the game.

Geneva scored 24 unanswered points from there, however. Two turnovers contributed to that run by the Vikings.

“They capitalized on our mistakes,” Kaneland coach Patrick Ryan said. “We had too many and they capitalized on them.

“We can’t turn the ball over. We can’t jump off sides. We’ve got to do a better job of running the ball.”

Carlson also posted big numbers, completing 22 of 36 passes for 296 yards and two TDs. Aric Johnson caught 10 passes for 116 yards and a TD.

Geneva’s Tommy Diamond (7) celebrates his touchdown in the first quarter with teammate Joshua Lyles (58) during a game in Maple Park on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022. (H. Rick Bamman / The Beacon-News)

Tommy Diamond caught a 45-yard TD pass from Stempowski, however, to force a 7-7 tie. Diamond also had an interception on defense.

Stempowski then turned to dynamic sophomore Talyn Taylor to give the Vikings the lead for good, connecting on a 59-yard TD pass with 3: 50 left in the second quarter.

That duo connected again for a 7-yard TD pass in the third. Taylor finished with six catches for 82 yards.

“Any time I can get him the ball, he can run in the open field,” Stempowski said. “Run after the catch is crazy with him. If I can find him and get him the ball, he’s a great receiver.

“Even if he’s covered, I throw it up and he can catch it. He’s the guy.”

Thorgesen agreed that teams will try to limit the damage done by Taylor.

Geneva’s Talyn Taylor (1) escapes the grasp of Kaneland’s Anthony Urban (24) for a big gain during a game in Maple Park on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022. (H. Rick Bamman / The Beacon-News)

That’s why he was happy with senior receiver Anthony Pantano, who totaled three catches for 51 yards, including a 28-yard TD.

“Keeping him in the game plan, getting him his touches, we understand teams are trying to take him away,” Thorgesen said of Taylor. “We feel pretty good about our other guys.

“We had a couple guys step up. Pantano played a great game. Diamond is a great player.”

While Thorgesen took the time to soak in coaching at his alma mater, he quickly changed back to coaching mode.

“It’s fun,” Thorgesen said. “It brings back some memories, but I’m happy about my guys making their own.”

Paul Johnson is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.

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