In a contest that featured Genoa running back David Nutter, Oak Harbor back Andrew Heberling, and Genoa ball carrier Jake Wojciechowski, it seemed fitting there was a bolt of lightning at this year’s "Celestial Bowl."
In this 41st meeting between Genoa and Oak Harbor, the lightning came courtesy of 5-foot-10, 174 pound G-Town senior Casey Gose, who scored four touchdowns.
He runs the 40 in 4.44. He's got nimble feet, makes a lot of people miss, sees the field and uses his smarts to make decisions, which goes along with a 3.389 GPA.
Gose ran all over the host Rockets' field on his way to scoring four touchdowns in the Comets’ 63-7 win, which helped Genoa improve to 2-0, take home the 2011-2013 "Celestial Ball" trophy, and improve to 17 wins in the all-time series. Oak Harbor leads with 24 wins.
"The Celestial Bowl definitely means something. It's a huge, huge rivalry, and a huge momentum game and it just always feels good to play great against a rival,” said Gose, a 17-year-old wide receiver, defensive back, return man, and all-around X-factor for the Comets
“These two schools are so close. The rivalry has been going on for awhile now. And the atmosphere…it's just incredible. I just think it's a great game to be a part of," added Gose.
Coach Tim Spiess said, "Casey Gose understands you only have one opportunity to be a high school student-athlete, and he's taking full advantage of this opportunity. His kickoff return against Oak Harbor was pretty special. He is a gifted competitor who brings his best every night.”
As one of Genoa's emotional leaders, he is the latest in a line of Gose gridders who have worn the maroon-and-gray. That line includes father Mike (1989) and uncles Johnny ('87) and Dan ('98), all of whom starred at wide receiver and defensive back.
"It's really special for me to carry on my family's name, but I also play for the many, many other guys who have come before me and worn the Comet uniform," Casey continues, "and I love to go out there and lay it all on the line for my teammates, too. Because I know I get the same thing in return from them. And you'll get that exact same response from everyone else on this team, because we believe football is just not an individual sport, and that you have to play for each other for good things to happen.
"And while I'd love to leave Genoa with a (championship) ring," he adds, "my goals are to just keep being a leader, and making sure the job gets done for the team on the football field."
The Comets' lethal special teams units are certainly getting the job done so far this year, and Gose is one element.
"For the past several seasons, we have coached special teams with as much passion as we do our offense and defense," Spiess said. "If you are lucky enough to be on our special teams units, you are guaranteed a lot of important playing time. Cody Pickard is a special player for our special teams. Nick Wolfe is an outstanding short and long snapper. Wolfe, Tyler Rozek, and Jake Wojciechowski have been extremely important to our kickoff and punt teams. The players just understand the importance of special teams."
One of Gose’s scores came off the Rockets' first punt of the game at the 9:51 mark of the first quarter, which Gose fielded at about mid-field, danced with for a step or two, and then turned on the after-burners down the home sideline, toting the rock for the night's first six behind a textbook escort of blockers.
His second TD came nearly 22 minutes later, this time on a 78-yard kickoff return, after he gathered in the Rockets' offering to start the second half at his own 22, showed his veteran poise to let the play develop, and then outraced the entire Oak Harbor coverage team through an alley — this time down the visitor's sideline.
About midway through the first half, Gose scored his third touchdown when he took the rock in from about 12 yards out for an easy run.
Later, he made one of the prettier plays of the night look that much prettier, when he caught a 47-yard strike from senior quarterback Logan Scott, and proceeded to outrun the defense to pay dirt again.
"Honestly, Logan made one of the best plays of the night," says Gose. "He started scrambling, and a defender had him, but he shook him off, and threw me a great pass on the run. I was only open because everyone thought he was going to be down."
Gose maintains that it was his punt return that put the biggest smile on his face.
"I think that punt return set the tone for the whole game and was a huge momentum swinger for the whole team," interjects Gose. "But I'll tell you, I couldn't have asked for better blocking on that return because everything hit just right, at just the right time.
"I personally think that special teams are one of the most-important things in a football game because they can be such a huge momentum swinger," he adds. "Kicking is huge, punting is huge, returning is huge…and I think any game can come down to the little things like that.
"As a team, we put a lot of time into special teams practice. We do them every day during the week, and I'd like to give a shout out to our phenomenal (junior) kicker Cody Pickard and really everybody who plays special teams for us," says Gose. "Without all 11 guys out there on the field doing their jobs, nothing good could happen."
Casey’s career-defining list of accomplishments includes 15 offensive touchdowns, 12 punts returned for TDs (he has two in his first two games this year), eight kickoffs returned for scores (one this season, so far), a second-team All-Northern Buckeye Conference selection in '12 followed by an honorable-mention all-district accolade the same year.
He put up a 55-yard average on kickoff returns in '12, and a 19.7-yard average on punt returns. A punt return that he took to the house last year against NBC rival Lake, because it was in the mud and he had to make eight cuts on treacherous ground to score, is also among his favorites.
However, his favorite career kickoff return came during his sophomore campaign in the playoffs against powerhouse Kenton at Bowling Green State University’s Doyt Perry Stadium, largely because it was a big-time game.
"I was only a 15-year-old, and the environment was crazy," Casey said.
And, Gose actually makes a ritual of thanking his grandparents for coming out, and supporting him. After every game — in every sport he plays.
"Casey always gives his mom (Shannon) a hug after each event. She's his No. 1 fan. He always supports his two younger sisters, Carly (a sophomore), and Caitlin (a sixth grader) at all their events. He's got a lot of character and he's an honors student. Shannon and I are very proud of him," Mike, his father, said.