Football is a game of yards, feet and even inches.
Touchdowns and field goals put points on the board, but often times it’s the handful of plays that happen before the score that can make the biggest difference in a game.
In the second game of the season, Genoa junior Casey Gose returned a kickoff 60 yards with less than one minute left in the first half against Ottawa County rival Oak Harbor.
|Genoa's Casey Gose has two touchdowns
on kick returns. (Press photo by Harold
“It set us up for a huge momentum-changing touchdown with only seven seconds remaining in the half,’ said Genoa coach Tim Spiess, whose team went on to a 43-21 win. “I told Casey at halftime I thought he should have scored. He looked like he was mad at me. The next week against Port Clinton (a 49-7 win), Casey scored on an 88-yard kickoff return. When he got to the sideline he said, ‘Hey, coach, I scored this time.’ ”
The 5-foot-9, 157-pound junior split end, cornerback and kick/punt returner had an 88-yard kick return for a touchdown last year in the Comets’ 32-22 regional semifinal loss to top-ranked Kenton.
This season Gose has scored on two punt returns, against Lake and Fostoria, and has returned 12 punts for a 19.7-yard average. He has a 55-yard average on three kickoff returns, including the 88-yarder against PC.
“He is our main return weapon on all special teams,” Spiess said.
Gose said several factors make a good punt/kick returner.
“You have to have a lot of speed, I believe,” he said. “You have to have great up-front guys doing the job blocking. You just have to make a couple cuts and go off of them. I like to scan the whole field before the punt and try to read off who’s going where. When they punt it to me and I catch it, I keep my eyes open to see where I’m going to make cuts, and I go off my blockers. We work on special teams a lot. We think that’s a major factor in a game.”
Gose said he’s got 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash, but there’s more to returning kicks and punts than just flat-out speed.
“If you’re going to outrun someone, you want to run north and south,” he said. “You’re not going to run over people. You’re there to make moves and take it to the house. It’s more quick feet than it is speed. Obviously, when you get in the open speed is a big factor, too.”
The Comets’ All-Ohio running back, Kyle Nutter, usually makes up the bulk of Genoa’s offense every week, but Gose has made the most of his opportunities.
A starting defensive back and split end, Gose has four catches for 57 yards (14.3-yard average) and two touchdowns, against Port Clinton and Lake. His only carry on offense this season was a 20-yard scamper in the season opener against Ottawa Hills.
After showing promise as a return man last season, Genoa’s coaching staff was ready to give Gose the full-time job this year in order to get him more touches.
“I think they put guys back there who they think are going to get the job done,” said Gose, who is not on the field for PATs and kickoff coverage. “They also put the guys up front who they think are going to get the job done. I love what I do. If they ever need help with anything, I’m going to take the job and accept it.”
Gose, a standout second baseman who played for the 16U Cincinnati Midland baseball team over the summer, said he has gained 12-15 pounds since last season. The added bulk hasn’t slowed him down. Gose has touched the ball 20 times on offense and special teams in 2012 and has accounted for 478 all-purpose yards (23.9 average) and five touchdowns.
“Casey Gose is an All-American kid from another generation,” Spiess said. “He acts as if he’s from a time when all a kid needed to be happy was a football, a basketball and a baseball and some friends to play a pick-up game. We are very fortunate in Genoa to have a large group of kids like that. Casey's potential and penchant for making big plays allows us to place a lot of pressure on the opposition.”
Gose said the Comets are playing like they’re on a mission this season. They entered Friday’s Northern Buckeye Conference game against Otsego with a 5-0 record (2-0 NBC) and a No. 6 ranking in the Division IV state poll. Genoa outscored its first five opponents by a 287-42 margin.
“We’re going to take each day and get better every day and take one game at a time and not look past anyone,” Gose said. “The main goal is to win every game and go from there. We work hard and the coaches help us out, too. It starts with the coaching staff, and we take it from there.”
Genoa’s Casey Gose (5) has two touchdowns on kick returns. (Press photo by Russ Lytle)
Genoa’s Casey Gose (5) has two touchdowns on kick returns. (Press photo by Harold Hamilton/HEHphotos.lifepics.com)