Written by Jeffrey D. Norwalk
Friday, 12 December 2008 15:02
GENOA, Oh. - And behold, on the eighth day, God formed a weird, but wonderful, oblong object better known as a pigskin out of His own two strong hands, and He forged out of the very earth’s mud, and grass, and freezing rain, and biting snow, and lifeblood, 56 tough, young men to roll around in the cold muck with that ball, and then He molded shiny, maroon and gray helmets, with sacred “Gs” scratched into the sides, and then lastly He assembled together a great pile of cumbersome rocks, that would eventually go on to become great, old Bergman Field, and He named this whole beautiful creation Genoa Comets’ football, and alas, it was all so good.
This fall, approximately thousands-upon-thousands of years, and literally millions-and-millions of days later, that Big, Great Coach in the Sky has once again gone back into His grand, grand playbook, and improved upon His original opus work, this time around giving His 2008 edition of His Comet gridders a sensational senior wide receiver with wings in rookie pass catcher Zach Apel so Genoa could fly; the very wind at star senior half-back Blair Skilliter’s back, so he could run to glory; and an all-wise, and loving, but fiery shepherd named Coach Mike Vicars to lead them into the promised land of back-to-back Suburban Lakes League championships in 2007 and 2008, a near-divine 13-1 overall season record, and a picture-perfect 7-0 mark again in the SLL, a first-ever, historic Division IV post-season playoff victory at home against the vaunted Huron Tigers, and a run deep, deep into those said playoffs before finally bowing out to the Kettering Archbishop Alter Knights at Findlay Donnell Stadium Friday, Nov. 21 in the prestigious state semi-finals, but just what was it about these local high school demi-gods and so many more, that the devout and faithful who make up “Comet Nation” loved the most, as they packed that beautiful, state-of-the-art cathedral known as Comet Stadium every Friday night, and paid homage to their heroes?
Recently, on the seventh day, while “Comet Nation” rested and began to re-group by the Grace of God from the heartbreaking loss to Alter, The Press Newspapers caught up with some of the masses, and asked them just that. . .
“AMAZING...it has truly been a special season for the "Comet Nation"! Coach Vicars, his coaching staff, players, cheerleaders, marching band and fans have been tremendous. The special undefeated regular season feat and the recent state playoff run has the entire community excited beyond belief. The fans have embraced this season like no other! Can we do it... can we win a state title? Regardless of the outcome of the 'Final 4' state playoffs this weekend our community has represented the northwest region with pride in support of the teams accomplishments.”
- Genoa Schools Superintendent Dennis Mock,
Just prior to the Kettering Alter game
“It’s been an unbelievable season with our athletes and students in Genoa Schools! Our football team has brought great pride in our schools and community. The community support has been overwhelming! It has helped us to pass our levy-now a K-5 new elementary will be built in 2 years at the HS site. Our football players are role models for our students! There is an amazing spirit in ALL our students- the expectations are HIGH!! The coaches have brought a sense of "family" and TEAM building to the schools and community. The football coaches have instilled values and high expectations for ALL students! As a "Comet" mom- I have feelings of pride . My son is #15 on the football team. I have Twins- son Matt and daughter Mallory- sophomores at GHS. Matt plays on the football team and loved being a Comet player this year! There is a sense of pride and accomplishment. He has the utmost respect for Coach Vicars and Coach Spiess....He views them as his "second" family! It's great being a "COMET" this year! Our students are excelling in athletics, and in academics...football has taught them teamwork, high expectations, and a sense of trust and life-long lessons, both on and off the field!”
- Genoa Schools Elementary principal,
"I could not be more happy for these young men. The satisfaction they all feel in giving their all for the team is something they take with them for the rest of their lives. I have watched these young men work so hard and be so committed to each other and be so committed to the team. They all have truly earned every single accomplishment they have achieved. This football group has not let anyone tell them what they "cannot do", rather they have been determined to achieve goals unthinkable by others. They have learned to believe in each other and believe in "TEAM", that growth has been really neat to watch. This guy, Mike Vicars, is just a pure leader. From the start, he demanded his players make sacrifices for each other. But, what people forget is that Mike came here to Genoa after a very tough decision to leave Delta. He had to pack up his entire family in a decision he made and had to sacrifice himself for what he believed was the right thing to do in that situation. In turn, Mike learned what my family and I have learned about the people of Genoa, they accept you with open arms and make you feel very much at home. He is a man of honor and values, something we all have learned from. His boys are quality young men who are great to be around. He is also a man who gives to you a sense of purpose to do things right and to "Be the Best"! I am not at all surprised he has come to Genoa and had immediate success because the young men of Genoa have just been waiting for a leader to come in, direct them, hold them accountable, and learn to be determined that anything less than your best is completely unacceptable."
- Tom Kontak, head coach,
Lady Comets Basketball
“Coach Vicars is phenomenal! Not only is he bringing out the best in our amazingly talented football players, but he is also inspiring many students and fans to "Be the Best"!! The football team, coaches and players, have pulled our community together in such a way, I doubt the bond will ever be broken. One of the last telephone conversations I had with my dad was from the sidelines of a Comet football game last October, giving him play by play action. He was certain the team would go far, and I am certain if you found him today, he would be celebrating equal to the rest of us!!”
- Mike “Wacky” McLear, son
of late, great Genoa softball coach,
“Papa” Joe McLear
“You know, when we began to interview candidates for the football position, I was included, and when you do something like that, you know what you are looking for. I knew what I wanted to see in our next coach. So, when Rick Briggle and I sat down with Coach Mike Vicars, I knew right then and there, that he is who I wanted. I told Rick after Mike and his family left, “That's our new coach.” I have worked with 7 or 8 head coaches since beginning my freshman here year at Genoa, along with many assistants, and many kids. And they all cared about the kids, but they didn't have the same attitude, and family values that Mike has. He is an amazing man, and very down to earth and very loving. I have always cared about the kids at Genoa, and that is why I stay here, and Mike is the same, he’s all about these kids. He loves them as much as his own kids. Which is the same way it is here with me. This group of young men has impressed me. They really do care about each other and the entire team approach. There is NO ONE PERSON who carries this team, and there is no talk of that by anyone here. Last year, when Mark Newland found out about his cancer, these boys asked him to come to their game, and sit with them on the sidelines and be a part of their family. Put simply, they care. This sis something great to see in our young people. I love these boys and they know it. They have made everything very easy. You know, no matter what, the bottom line is ....these kids, these boys, this awesome team, this is what it is all about. Everyone just needs to be happy for them. We need to keep in mind that these are still young men in their early years, playing a game they love. It is not a profession. Let’s let them enjoy the game in all of its aspects. We love our Comets! Great job men! I am so proud of you all.”
- Assistant Genoa Athletic Director,
“The Genoa Area community has always been a tremendous supporter of its various sports teams. I have been fortunate to experience that, both as a player, and now as a basketball coach. It is a wonderful thing to see, when you have coaches and players that work extremely hard, and do the right things, be rewarded for their efforts. Coach Vicars and his staff have done a good job of preparing the kids week by week, and giving them the best chance they can to win. We have good athletes on this team, yes, but as good as they may be as football players, they are better kids. Also, as an alumni of GHS, it is always great to see the Maroon & Gray be successful. Go Comets !”
- Brad Sander, Genoa basketball
coach, Genoa Bank
“The one thing I can attest to is the amount of energy Coach Vicars brings to the school, community, and the football team. I have the pleasure of working with Mr. Vicars on a daily basis, as he is the PASS/VLA teacher at the high school. I am the supervisor of this program. This is our in-school suspension program and Virtual Learning Academy program. The VLA program helps those students who are behind in some classes, and in jeopardy of not graduating on time. He does a wonderful job working with these students. He's a teacher, a counselor, a coach, and an advocate for these students. I hear people say that he does a great job with our football program, but that is just a small part of what he has brought to our district. He has brought a sense of caring and responsibility to the students he has worked with. He has given them a reason to want to succeed in school, and a sense of accomplishment. I know he has brought a lot to the football program, but I think he has brought even more to our Genoa students. I can say that his football players are role models to our student population, and their behavior and grades are positively influence by his teachings. I can also share that he has brought two great sons with him, who have made a difference both on and off the football field. I remember attending the basketball tournament game at Napoleon last year. While waiting to enter the gym, I had someone from the opposing team talk to me about Mike's son Derrick, who graduated last year. The man was saying what a great athlete Derrick was, and all the records he was breaking. After hearing him "brag" about all the athletic feats Derrick had brought to Genoa, I looked at the gentleman and said Derrick was even a better person than an athlete. The man went silent. After pondering my comment, he said he had never heard anyone respond in that way. I told him, “Derrick may be a great athlete and break all the records, but the biggest difference he will make in the future is with his caring and kindness towards others.” I think Derrick, and Mike's other son Marcus, show us all what kind of man and role model Mike is. You just know what a great person Mike is, by looking at his two sons.”
- Kevin Ball
“It's hard to put what this season means to me in words. PRICELESS.... is all I can think of! Every player, every parent, every fan has high expectations each year, and hopes for Gridiron Glory and success. But the emotion and memories our family enjoys each game is immeasurable! At last count, I think, the Skilliters are packing over 25 fans to each game. Blair is such a tremendous athlete, and has waited so long for his turn and moment in the sun. Yet, he along with all his teammates, have time and time again given the Comet Nation so much to be proud of. It's not just about scoring the touchdowns, or catching the pass, or delivering the monster hit. What his team has given this community, the SLL, and in some cases Northwest Ohio, is a greater gift. An escape from reality, and all the pressures, and adversity we all face with the deteriorating economy, and our personal uncertainty.
They have given us something to believe in! I for one, believe despite all the economic turmoils, the success of this year’s football team helped spearhead the levy champion, and was a contributing factor in the passage of the new bond levy. This levy and the construction of the new elementary school, will be permanent reminders of the impact they had on our lives.....long after many of these kids will have their own families. This is truly a gift they have given their community that will last for generations.”
- Bill Skilliter, President, Genoa
Athletic Boosters, father, senior
Half-back, Blair “Iron Man”