On any good football team, it is usually the star players on offense that receive the accolades.
The quarterback, the running back, the wide receivers or anyone who regularly score touchdowns or comes up with big plays in the clutch. With Genoa, it's running backs like Kyle Nutter, quarterbacks like Logan Scott and Kyle Williams and playmakers like Casey Gose and kicker Cody Pickard that are most recognized for the Comets' success.
But it's often the defense that matters most. It is the work of the 11 men on the other side of the ball that help to dictate the pace of a football game and put the offense in advantageous situations.
|Michael Deiter tackles Woodmore quarterback Jake Matwiecjzyk.
(Press photo by Harold Hamilton/HEHphotos.lifepics.com)
Since coaches Tim Spiess and Mike Vicars arrived in Genoa six years ago, Genoa has been known for having stingy, aggressive defenses that wreak havoc and work to dictate the pace of the game.
This season has been no different as Genoa's defense, which uses a 5-2 format, has allowed just 11.4 points per game, including seven or fewer points in six of its 10 games while leading the Comets to a 10-0 record, their first Northern Buckeye Conference title and an appearance in the Division IV state playoffs.
And, most importantly, when called upon, they've answered the call, holding Oak Harbor and Otsego in check in the second half of both games. Most recently, with the Comets holding a 14-10 lead midway through the fourth quarter of their Week 10 matchup with Eastwood, Nutter came up with arguably the play of the season, stripping the ball from running back Derek Snowden and returning it 65 yards for the touchdown to put the game away.
“We are an attack team and we will always be an attack team,” Spiess said. “Some coaches aren't very fond of blitzing, but on 24 out of every 25 snaps, we're sending people. Our philosophy is, get people to the ball. That's just the personality of our defense. I've never been a guy that lets the offense dictate the game. Whatever our defense is called, that's what we're going with. It helps us because, with that mentality, it forces the other team to adjust.”
Nutter, who plays something of a hybrid position between linebacker and defensive back, talked about the defense's philosophy.
“Everyone has to be on the same page,” Nutter said. “I think the most important thing about being a good defense is you have to be tenacious (and) physical and you have to fly to the ball. That's how we want to play the defense; we have to be aggressive. We use a lot of blitzes and stunts to make the offensive line break down. Ultimately, if the offensive line breaks down, then you've won the battle.”
There were some questions as to whether or not Genoa would have another great season, seeing as the team had to replace a bevy of starters on defense.
“The defense is very young,” Spiess said. “We had our entire secondary graduate. We graduated two linebackers, two defensive linemen and a defensive end. We were hit really hard with graduation.”
The Comets have compensated by relying on some of their seasoned veterans like Nutter, defensive end Logan Bryer and linebacker Nick Keller. But the rest of the group, which consists of defensive linemen Quinn Spies, Max Reeder, Michael Deiter, Zach Roberts, Tyler Rozak, Blake Traver, Jake Wojochowski, Cole, Beck Lucas Apel, Tyler Baird, Nick Wolfe and linebackers Ryan Espinoza and David Nutter along with Pickard, Gose, Jake Young and Kyle Edwards in the defensive backfield.
“What we've done is we've played an awful lot of kids on defense,” Spiess said. “On most Friday nights, we've had between 18 to 22 kids play defense in the first half. We do it to help the kids stay fresh. When you're that young, there's so much additional coaching involved, you need to coach them up on some of their mistakes that need to be corrected.”