Geneva’s Michael Rumoro felt a few jitters heading into his varsity debut Friday night.
The junior running back was looking forward to his first taste of action after spending last season on the sophomore team. And the big stage definitely lived up to its billing.
“My teammates picked me up coming into here and got me ready to go,” Rumoro said. “It was a little nerve-wracking, but at the end of it, I was ready to go because of them.”
Whatever they did to get Rumoro ready clearly worked.
He broke out in a big way, rushing for 123 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries for the Vikings in a 35-0 nonconference victory over host Metea Valley in Aurora.
In the season opener for both teams, Rumoro scored on a pair of acrobatic 19-yard runs for Vikings (1-0) and then blazed 43 yards for his third TD.
“We saw it this summer,” Geneva coach Boone Thorgesen said. “Do you believe it? Yeah, but at the same time, it’s still his first varsity game.
“He did things we always knew he could do. We saw it for two years in our program. It’s awesome that he gets to have a night like he did.”
On his first series, he carried the ball five times for 53 yards. His 19-yard TD run featured a hurdle over a defender en route to the end zone.
“It was really exciting,” Rumoro said. “He was always kind of ankle biting me a little bit, so I thought maybe I can jump over him a little bit.
“I didn’t expect it to go that way, but it turned out well.”
In the third quarter, Rumoro pushed Geneva’s lead to 21-0 with a twisting, 19-yard TD run that featured several broken tackles before he dove for the pylon.
After Tommy Diamond returned an interception 33 yards for a TD, Rumoro capped the scoring by racing into the end zone on a 43-yard run.
“We thought Michael was one of the best running backs in the conference on the sophomore team,” Thorgesen said of last season. “We have a pretty good one-two punch (with Troy Velez).
“Michael is very athletic and has a quick burst through the hole.”
Metea (0-1) suffered key injuries early in the game that forced adjustments.
Lucas Van Vlerah had to come in at quarterback three plays into the game due to injury. He finished 20 of 41 passing for 173 yards with two interceptions.
“You kind of have to scramble,” Metea coach John Parpet said of Van Vlerah. “That’s who he is. He does those things. He was pressed into action because we lost our quarterback for the year last year.
“He had to come back in and do the same role. He’s very athletic.”
Stempowski, meanwhile, finished 10 of 18 passing for 185 yards and TD for Geneva. Taylor had four catches for 105 yards. Will Diamond added an interception.
With all eyes this season on the highly recruited Taylor, Rumoro’s breakout performance shines the spotlight on another skill player for the Vikings.
“It just gives us more weapons,” Thorgesen said. “In our conference and with our schedule, the more weapons you have, it puts stress on the defense.”
For Rumoro, the stress of worrying about making his debut is over. He’s now a varsity player, and he has a lifetime memory of that first game to show for it.
“It’s surreal, honestly,” Rumoro said. “I wasn’t expecting it coming in. I was just trying to get my first game going. I didn’t expect to score three touchdowns.”
Paul Johnson is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.