Former Lake Flyer gridders Josh and Greg Hillabrand don’t always see eye to eye.
As part of the Division IV state semifinal qualifying Genoa Comets this season, they still didn’t.
They both played a big part in leading the Comets to its 13-1 dream season, which ended last week in Findlay to a highly-touted Kettering Archbishop Alter team, 42-34.
Thanks to Josh, Genoa squandered only 103 points in the first 13 games. A classic, undersized defensive lineman listed at only 5-8, 175 pounds, Josh is forced to bring lightning quickness, and tiger-like tenacity a run-stuffer and sack-master.
The 18-year-old senior Josh prefers to guzzle ice-cold orange Gatorade right out of the bottle to quell his thirst.
Junior Greg is a Mohawk-wearing, Saturday-morning-headline-grabbing star on both sides of the ball. He was the team’s third-leading tackler with 115 stoppages heading into the Alter game and had a pair of interceptions from his linebacker position. But, Greg is also their second-leading rusher with 974 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Greg digs on traditional lemon-lime Gatorade.
Now that they are finally stepping off the gridiron, what comes next?
Younger Hillabrand brother Greg takes to ripping the covers off baseballs. Greg was a three-hole hitter with a monstrous .465 batting average and one home run last spring, and a First-Team All-SLL, All-District second baseman for the Flyers baseball team in ’07.
Big brother Josh chooses to take his young man’s ire out on hockey pucks, as a left-handed, hard-shooting forward.
The brothers Hillabrands’ preferred means of relaxation when it comes time to just chill?
Josh is a fan of the hit TV drama “The Unit,” while Greg gets his kicks out of hanging with Charlie Sheen’s smooth Charlie Harper character during CBS’s long-running, No. 1 Monday night comedy, “Two and a Half Men.”
All of these differences that come between brothers aside, they’re going out as undisputed SLL champions and state semifinalists together in 2008.
So here are the Hillabrand brothers, Josh and Greg, or Greg and Josh, whichever way you prefer it, in their own words. . .
•Hillabrand File Fast Fact - The Hillabrands first got their tastes tackle football around the fourth and third grades respectively, when they joined up with the legendary East Side Raiders pee-wee squad.
Both Josh and his younger brother Greg started out on the offensive line; for the Lake Flyers, Josh played both running back and defensive back for the JV squad as a freshman, and at wide receiver and defensive back on the varsity as a sophomore, while Greg starred at his familiar spots of running back and linebacker as a sophomore.
• On how it felt to put on that maroon and gray jersey for the very first time this past summer, after so many years of wearing Flyer blue: “It was weird at first. I mean, it was definitely kind of weird for me in the beginning, when we had our 7-on-7s, and we got to camp, and I first got my helmet. Because I can remember when I first brought it home, and I was looking at it in the mirror, and I was like, ‘Whoa! This is really a reality now. I am a Genoa Comet now, and I’m wearing the maroon and gray.’ So, yeah, it was kind of weird for me at first, but I’ve adapted to it, and now I love it.” -Josh
“No, putting on that maroon and gray for the first time wasn’t hard for me at all. I liked it. I thought it was a great feeling. I was happy to be in it.” -Greg
• On what they remember about playing against the Comets in the past: “What I remember from last year was the team discipline that this team had. And their team speed. And then there was the coaching. It was just so different. I mean, look at Genoa during my sophomore year at Lake. They were like 3-7, I think, and then they very next year they’re 10-2. It’s just amazing how certain coaches can come in, and change a team into a program with a winning attitude.” -Josh
“Genoa has always had great athletes in the past, and they have had times before when they haven’t had the best coaching, but last year they just came in with Coach Vicars, and turned it all around over here. Going into games against Genoa in the past, I used to be like, “How do you beat these guys?” Now I’m a part of it all, and we’re having the best season of our lives. We don’t want it to end.” -Greg
• Hillabrand File Fast Fact - Josh’s Favorite Comet Moments:
1.) The Comets’ first-ever scrimmage of ’08, when he performed very well, and says “my teammates started to take notice of my energy level, and started to accept me;”
2.) Genoa’s game for all the SLL marbles against perennial conference powerhouse Eastwood during which the senior Hillabrand brother recorded two big-time sacks, and his Comets prevailed 24-0 in Pemberville;
3.) And the 28-14 playoff win against storied Fostoria in Fremont, because “I remember on Friday, we had been hearing in all the papers, that if Genoa sends the blitz, they’d better be able to tackle, or else Micah Hyde is going to run all day. So, yeah, having everybody doubt us, and then going out there, and beating them, that was one of the best games ever.”
• Greg’s Favorite Comet Moments:
1.) The Comets’ opening game of the ’08 season, in which they drubbed the visiting Mohawk Warriors 55-0, because Greg says “Winning that one let people know that Genoa was no fluke in 2007, and that we were going to be good again;”
2.) Going into Eastwood and beating the Eagles in their house, in which Greg scored the first touchdown of the game, after everyone picked them to lose, and finish second in the SLL on the year;
3.) “What we’ve been doing all through the playoffs,” Greg offers. “Everybody’s been like, “There’s no way Genoa’s going to stop them. They’re too small. And now we’re proving them all wrong, and everybody is like for us. Everybody’s thinking like, “Hey, you know what? Maybe Genoa’s for real now.”
• On playing on the Comets’ undersized defensive line: “It’s all about speed with us. It’s all about our speed, and how agile we are. You know, we line up against a lot of bigger guys out there, and like against Huron, they just look at us, and laugh. Everybody thinks they’re going to have it easy against us. But me, and Mazza, and Ryan Bless are so quick out there, that a lot of the bigger guys don’t ever know what hit them. When you have three little ankle biters, biting you in the ankles when you’re big, and 6-2, or 6-3, it makes for a lot longer of a night.” -Josh
• On starring in the Comets’ stellar, super-octane backfield: “Oh, yeah, it’s a blast. Because we know that if one guy goes down, or Blair, or Marcus, or Connor, or I need a break, we have another amazing back ready to step up for this team. It takes a lot of pressure off your shoulders, not having to worry about being the only one to pull the load. We’ve got amazing wide receivers. An amazing quarterback. An amazing defense, and an amazing line. And if you put that together with an amazing coach, you have the perfect team.” –Greg
• On Coach Mike Vicars: “Before I came to Genoa, I always kind of saw Coach Vicars as like a hard-nosed coach, and a guy who loved to yell at everybody all the time. But that was only at first. I found out that he was a loving man, and that he was just really nice, and a great guy, and that he totally loves all of his football players. He just loves every, single one of us.” -Josh
“I picked Genoa to transfer to because of Coach Vicars. I mean, let’s face it, Coach Vicars’ first year here was pretty impressive. Our old Lake football coach, Coach (Jim) Kubuske, knew him, and always told me that he was a good football coach. So, I thought, why not give Coach Vicars and Genoa a try, because me and my old coach were always really close. I figured I could trust him.” -Greg
•On what makes this ’08 Comets team special: “I think it’s the love. It’s the love we have for each other. It’s just incredible. we’re just one, giant, happy family out there, and every Friday night we go out there beating as one giant heart. We’re not 11 different heartbeats. We’re one, single heartbeat, trying to accomplish one goal.” -Josh
“Probably the love that we have for each other. You know, obviously every team is going to go through their scuffles, and we’ve had like maybe one or two this year. But other than that, we just care about each other, and know that every game could be our last. We’re just always going to play for each other, to make each other look amazing out there, and to keep going on.” -Greg
• On hoisting the regional championship trophy at the Doyt: “Oh, that was so incredible. I remember the first thing they wanted us to do was to go to the fans in the homestands, but the very first thing I did was take off my helmet, and run straight to my dad in the end zone. Because I wanted to give him a hug right there. That was the best thing in the world that night. Without him, none of this would’ve been possible. I would’ve never been in the playoffs. And I would’ve never been able to go to Genoa. I’ll forever be grateful to my parents, for giving us this chance.” -Josh
“That was a great feeling. That was just amazing. I went from never getting to hold a trophy up in the air before, to coming here, and holding a new one up every week.” -Greg