For new Genoa football coach Tim Spiess, this opportunity has been a long time coming.
At 50 years of age, Spiess was given the opportunity to be the head coach of a powerhouse football program, and after two games, it looks as if the Comets have not missed a beat.
Genoa football has reached the mark of excellence over the past five years. The Comets have gone 56-7 (48-2 in the regular season), won four Suburban Lakes League titles and advanced as far as the Division IV regional semifinals, highlighted by an appearance in the state semifinals in 2008.
|Retired Genoa coach Jim Firestone presents
the Kiwanis Celestial Ball trophy to new
Genoa coach Tim Spiess. (Press photo by
The program was revived, starting in '07, by former head coach Mike Vicars, now the team's offensive coordinator. The man who's been at his side during Genoa's impressive run?
And when Vicars decided to step down as head coach last May, who replaced him?
Spiess’ inaugural season opened with victories over Ottawa Hills (58-7) and Oak Harbor (43-21). Spiess is finding that being the head coach means much more than just dealilng with issues not necessarily on the gridiron — it means being an administrator, delegator, and more.
“The transition's been, from the football end, very easy,” said Spiess. “The tough part is being the manager — doing the fundraisers, ordering thousands of dollars of equipment. Getting acquainted on the sidelines has been tough. I'm used to being in the press box. Up there, you can see the game unfold. On the sidelines, that's been a work in progress.”
Vicars, who switched spots with Spiess and moved from the sidelines to the press box, is quite pleased with the transition his longtime friend has made.
“It's gone great,” Vicars said. “When I began to tire a couple years ago, we knew this might be coming. (Spiess) said no at first, but I told him he had no choice. He always worked very hard and was a very loyal assistant coach. He was more than ready for this opportunity and has done an excellent job. Tim has been my right-hand man here at Genoa and I always view him as kind-of a co-head coach. In my eyes, the transition has been seamless.”
For Vicars, going from being the head coach to the offensive coordinator has allowed him to relax after investing heavily in the program the past five years. Vicars, who is the Genoa Middle School assistant principal, now bears less responsibility as an assistant coach and has more time for his hobbies, like fishing, and watching his grandson grow up.
On the gridiron, Spiess had his work cut out for him, considering the Comets are replacing starters from last season and have just seven seniors on the squad.
“The kids that are first-year players are ahead of where they should be,” Spiess said. “That's going to be important down the road. We're getting more out of some of our key players than I expected. They realize they have things to play for.”
The Genoa players seem to be dealing with the transition well, too.
“(Coach Spiess) is a great coach and he really knows how to get the best out of everyone,” running back Kyle Nutter said. “He definitely knows what he's talking about and how to run a football team.
“It helped a lot (with the transition) because Coach Spiess just moved up to head coach and Coach Vicars is now an assistant. Spiess still runs the defense and Vicars runs the offense, so not much has changed.”
Genoa opens Northern Buckeye Conference play Friday at Fostoria. League play could pose a greater challenge for the Comets this year. In the past, league play in the SLL and NBC has been like the Big Two (Eastwood and Genoa) and the rest, but this year could be different.
Spiess remembers when he and Vicars arrived here after coaching in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League
“In March of 2007, Mike sent me an email and hinted that he was possibly making the job change,” Spiess recalls. “To be honest, I didn't even know what school he was talking about it. I said I was in and it was least three weeks before I found out where Genoa was.”
During their first year together at Genoa, Spiess, who had previously served as the assistant defensive coordinator at Defiance College, retained his job as a math teacher at Napoleon High School before getting a teaching job at Genoa Middle School in '08.
Prior to that, Spiess served as head coach at Edgerton and from 1991-2005 was the defensive coordinator at Liberty Center under Rex Lingruen. At Liberty, he had a hand in leading the Tigers to the Division V state championship in '97. Spiess and Vicars also worked together within the football program at Delta in the '80s, and coached against one another when Vicars was later the head coach at Delta (2000-06). Competing against one another in the NWOAL with the likes of Patrick Henry and Archbold, provided valuable experience for both coaches.
“We had some great battles,” Vicars recalls.