Comets, Wildcats looking to overcome inexperience

J. Patrick Eaken

If you talk to the Genoa (1-4) and Woodmore (0-4) football coaches about their 0-3 non-league start, you’ll pretty much get the same message.
        The diagnosis — “inexperience” was a major factor in those losses. But don’t fret, Comet and Wildcat fans, as they get experience and into their league schedules, both coaches expect to see wins.
        In addition, at least five of their six combined non-league opponents look like potential playoff teams.
        This Friday, in their second Northern Buckeye Conference game, the Comets and Wildcats will face off at the Comet’s stadium on the corner of Genoa-Clay Center and Moline-Martin roads.
        Genoa’s first three opponents are a combined 6-3, but make no mistake, even though Columbus Bishop Ready is 1-2 they are nearly always a playoff contender that takes on a difficult schedule. Genoa lost to Ready, 24-7, Oak Harbor, 49-14, and Huron, 34-7.
        “Hopefully we learn from the mistakes that we’ve made the last three games that put us into this position. We’ve had some young kids that we’ve had to put into the mix here due to some injuries,” Genoa coach Paul Patterson said.
        “You get hit by some injuries early on and we’re running with some inexperienced kids thrown out onto the field the first three weeks. It was a lot of learning for them. You learn from it. You are going to compete against those kinds of teams.
        “Bishop Ready is a good program, well-coached football team and Oak Harbor is a really good football team this year. They are a special team in this area. Huron is a solid program year-in and year-out. It just came down to we’ve got to cut down on the mistakes on our end. The last game we didn’t turn over the ball and we did a good job of taking care of the football. There were just some things we need to clean up on both sides of the ball,” Patterson continued.
        Who is Genoa’s biggest loss due to injury? No doubt it is 6-foot, 255-pound senior running back Daniel Novotney. After running for 1,280 yards and 21 touchdowns last year, he had just five carries for 19 yards before he got hurt against Ready in the season opener.
        “We were planning on giving him a lot more than that — about 30 a game. That happens and it’s high school sports,” Patterson said. “Daniel is done for the year. That’s really rough when you have that happen early in week one. The thing is that affects both sides of the ball because he was a pretty solid linebacker for us, also, and had been playing linebacker for three years and running back for three years.”
        Ray Gomez, a 5-10, 175 pound speedster who had over 400 yards of total offense and five touchdowns last year, was also injured but has returned. So far, he has 137 rushing yards on 34 attempts — good for an average of 17 yards per carry. He’s also caught two passes for 17 yards, despite missing quality time.
        “Gomez is back. He played last week against Huron,” Patterson said. “He had 100 yards rushing last week so we were able to get him into the mix and we are definitely going to use him because he is one of our best backs coming back.”
Stoner learning his job
        In addition, Genoa’s 5-9, 165-pound junior quarterback Rylen Stoner has thrown 19 completions for 268 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown strike to senior running back Charlie Cutler. Freshman back Robert Messenger has 237 yards of total offense, Gomez has 154, senior tight end Reid Stoner has 106, Cutler has 82 and junior tight end A.J. Rubeis has 67.
        Stoner has completed 45.2 percent of his passes (42 attempts) and thrown four interceptions, but he’s only been sacked once and can run when he has to.
        “We’ve been kind of playing with running the ball a little bit and he has the ability,” Patterson said. “He was a running back for us last year. I talk about all our different positions, and now he’s played three varsity games at quarterback for us, so he’s learned, seen some of his mistakes, and hopefully he learns from them. It’s the same with all our spots.”
        On defense, 5-10, 180-pound linebacker Daniel Baker leads the team with 20 tackles, including two for a loss. Others are still learning their position, which Patterson believes will pay off.
        “It’s inexperience in spots. We’re moving people around, and even offensively we’re moving some kids around into different positions. You are still dealing with inexperience at those spots,” Patterson said. “Even Danny (Baker) has played some linebacker and he’s always been a defensive end for us the last couple years. He’s kind of learning on the go, too.”
        As the Comets work their way into the league schedule, Patterson is not taking a league championship off the table, even when you consider how well Eastwood (3-0) has started.
        “When we come into the league, there are well-coached teams. Elmwood has improved immensely, Rossford is solid, and Woodmore is a well-coached team. I think you look at the league in general and from our end we just have to take care of business and clean up our stuff. We’re going to be playing against some pretty well-coached teams in the league,” Patterson said.
         “And, you know, it’s the league, so you turn the page and you focus on competing week-in and week-out in the league, and your goal is still to win a league championship.”
‘Cats roster numbers up
        Woodmore coach Lou Bosh is bringing the Wildcats back from the abyss — no other way to say it. The roster size has almost doubled from a few years back and middle school football is back at Woodmore. Even freshmen who didn’t get to play in the eighth grade last year are back to take a whack at it.
        “We have few more kids to work with and we’re able to have more kids play. Obviously we have kids playing both ways and everybody does, but we have some kids that are one-way players, and that certainly helps, too,” Bosh said.
        The Wildcats have not seen a second half running clock, and they lost to two defending league champions that started 3-0 — Northwood, 36-18, and Gibsonburg, 19-0. The other loss was to Lakota (1-2), 21-8.
        “Obviously we are disappointed we didn’t get any wins in the non-conference schedule,” Bosh said. “We played hard, we started well in the first half with Northwood, and Northwood is just talented. They are a very good team, and Gibsonburg and Northwood are probably going to be playoff teams. Lakota is doing pretty good other than some injuries that they suffered. We were right there in that game, too, and we just didn’t help ourselves, though,” Bosh said.
        “The kids are playing very hard. We still have some things that we still need to execute on offensively and we’ve got to be able to finish with the ball in the end zone. We’ve had the ball, we’ve made some good drives and stuff, and we’re just not finishing with some scores.
        “Defensively, I think we’re giving ourselves a chance to be in ballgames and we’re playing well. I think we’ve given up some scores late in the games, obviously after we haven’t been able to respond with some touchdowns ourselves.”
        Woodmore’s 6-1, 190-pound junior quarterback Aaron Sandrock has completed 29 of 62 passes for 353 yards (46.8 percent) and two touchdowns, but he has thrown three interceptions and been sacked 10 times.
        “Aaron is doing well. He is still working through some reads and we’re trying to get him to see some things,” Bosh said.
        His favorite receiver is 6-4, 210 pound senior Andrew Barringer, who has 10 receptions for 164 yards and a touchdown. Dennis “D.J.” Melter, a 6-2, 195-pound junior running back, has 127 yards rushing on 42 attempts and 5-10, 215-pound senior linebacker Seth Drossel leads the defense with 20 tackles, including two for a loss.

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