In football, it's the quarterbacks, the running backs and the wide receivers that are used to receiving the accolades and much of the credit for an offense's success.
But any educated football fan will tell you that it is the offensive line and the tight ends up front doing the dirty work — the blocking that is necessary to give the quarterback protection and provide lanes for the running backs.
It starts with center Nick Keller, a senior who stands 6 feet tall and weighs 235 pounds. On the left side is tackle Mike Deiter (6-3, 283) and guard Logan Bryer (5-11, 235) with Nick Harrick (6-2, 238) and Cole Beck (5-11, 245) splitting time at right tackle and guard John Belski (5-9, 175) rounding out the line. Only Keller and Deiter are returning starters, but Bryer did see his share of action on the line last year. Helping to complement the line are tight ends Zach Roberts and Quentin Spiess.
|The Genoa offensive line (left to right)-Quentin Spiess, Cole Beck, John
Belsky, Nick Keller, Logan Bryer, Michael Deiter and Zach Roberts. (Press
photo by Harold Hamilton/HEHphotos.lifepics.com)
What first-year coach Tim Spiess likes about this group is its athleticism and intelligence.
“I knew how fast and physical we were,” Spiess said, “Nick Keller is the third best offensive lineman I've ever coached. Mike Dieter, who plays left tackle, gave up hockey for football (a few years ago). He has balance, power and speed from hockey and he can use (that) out on the field. John Belski, he lost 40 pounds during the offseason and has maintained his strength.”
Spiess also credits Nick Harrick, who has battled back from a knee injury, and Cole Beck for filling in for him during Harrick's absence, and notes the strength and intelligence of Bryer, who finished second in the discus at the Division II state track meet last spring.
“If you're big and strong and not an athlete, you probably can't play for us – there is too much running and pulling and adjusting. Our interior five are five of the best linemen in the league.”
Part of the reason for the front line's success is because, while they are well-coached group, Spiess and his assistants don't micromanage.
“(The audibles), that's up to any of the front seven, any of the backs,” he said. “The way I coach the offensive line and the freedom we give them — you can't be (too) controlling. The kids have to be out there making plays. You have to trust them.”
The rushing attack, as it has been for the past two seasons, is led by All-Ohio running back Kyle Nutter, who carried the ball 207 times for 1,905 yards and a remarkable 33 touchdowns heading into Friday’s game at Eastwood. But it hasn't been a one-man show. Jake Wojciechowski, who fills in for Nutter, has 56 carries for 660 yards (11.4-per carry) and five TDs. Kyle’s brother, David, has 40 carries for 380 yards and six TDs and Ryan Espinoza has rushed 36 times for 378 yards and five TDs.
In fact, in Genoa's 58-7 win over Fostoria, Wojciechowski and Kyle Nutter rushed for over 200 yards apiece. Wojciechowski carried the ball 14 times for 210 yards and a touchdown and Nutter rushed 11 times for 207 yards and three scores. It was in that game that kicker Cody Pickard set a state record by kicking six field goals.
Despite the fact that Spiess took over for offensive coordinator Mike Vicars as head coach during the offseason, there hasn't been a noticeable drop off in the team's performance. The Comets were off to a 9-0 start and ranked third in the Division IV, Region 14 Playoff Standings with 19.24 points after nine weeks.
After serving as the defensive coordinator at Liberty Center from 1991-2006, Spiess joined Vicars, his former high school classmate, in coming to Genoa. And since the two arrived in 2007, they've built Genoa into a powerhouse program that's won four league titles and made it to the playoffs in each of their five years running the show.
The Comets have accomplished this in 2012 even with youth and injuries. The team has just six seniors and nine of 22 starters have suffered injuries at various times.
“People don't realize how young we are,” Spiess said. “It's certainly been an eventful year with all the injuries we've had to overcome.”