GENOA – Genoa-Kingston coach Randy Tate doesn’t remember the score of his team’s preseason game against Earlville, or if the teams even kept score.
But he does remember being struck by the possession style his team was able to play after last year’s team relied on two star forwards to create chances.
At that point, Tate knew his team would have a chance to have a special season.
“We looked awesome,” Tate said. “I thought, ‘Wow, we have something here that I haven’t seen. A lot more passing and teamwork. I had high hopes at the beginning … The control of the ball and our passing and teamwork was just a lot better than I’ve seen in the past.”
The Cogs hit some bumps in the road, including the season-opening Stillman Valley tournament, in which they lost to Stillman Valley and Hinckley-Big Rock, but they’re making the type of run that Tate always thought they could.
On Saturday, the Cogs won their first sectional title in school history, and they’ve done so by building a balanced team.
“Once everybody settled in and accepted their roles and started playing their positions, things started to click,” Tate said.
The Cogs only lost three times after the Stillman Valley tournament, and their run continued with a 1-0 victory over Stillman on Saturday.
On Tuesday in Peoria, they’ll have a chance to avenge another early-season loss when they play Somonauk, which beat them 7-1 in the season opener, in the Class 1A Peoria Christian Supersectional with a trip to the state semifinals on the line.
“Early in the year, we weren’t quite ready, we weren’t playing as well as we could have,” junior Bobby Nay said. “Now, late in the season, being this far, we’ve really pulled together as a team … I don’t know if we expected to do as well as we have this year, but we thought we could do well.””
The Cogs know the Bobcats, who beat Hinckley-Big Rock in the regional final, will be their toughest test of the tournament.
“They’re a very good defensive team and they’re well-balanced,” Tate said. “I didn’t see too many weak spots on their team.”
But Tate isn’t surprised his team reached this point. Since very early, a trip to state was always a goal for the Cogs.
“Our goal was to get to state, that’s what we said at the beginning,” Tate said. “We’ve been taking it one step at a time. It was great to win sectional, but we really want to win the supersectional. That’s been our main goal all season.”