For the last six-and-a-half years, the Genoa Comets have been the standard-bearer for Suburban Lakes League and Northern Buckeye Conference football teams.
Six playoff appearances, five league titles and a trip to the state final four in 2008 have helped head coach Tim Spiess and former coach Mike Vicars build one of Ohio’s best programs.
This year, Genoa picked up right where it left off, dominating opponents and starting out 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the NBC. The Comets were seriously challenged once this year, taking Lake’s best shot in a 49-35 victory over the Flyers that saw Genoa fall behind, 21-7, before rallying to take the lead just before halftime.
Woodmore, their opponent this Friday, has an offense that is similar to Lake’s in that it features athletic skilled players who know how to score points, but Genoa’s offense is potent, too.
The Comets employ the wing-t and feature versatile players like Logan Scott, David Nutter, Jake Wojciechowski, Ryan Espinoza, Quentin Spiess and Casey Gose. In doing so, the Comets have averaged 60.6 points per game.
|Top right: Senior quarterback Jake Matwiejczyk. (Press
photo by Dean Utendorf/WoodmorePhotos.com) Bottom:
Genoa running back David Nutter scores.(Press photo by
But it’s the defense that will determine whether Genoa can shut down the Wildcat’s offense and win the NBC title outright. The Comets will have to follow that up with a playoff run. For the Comets to go deep into the postseason, Spiess says they’ll have to remain focused and continue to work hard.
“We’ve had an outstanding week of practice so far,” Spiess said. “We’ve spent a lot of time watching old film from the bigger games in years past to stay focused. Those teams showed that you can’t just turn it on every week. When you have as many seniors as we do, they do a good job of working hard.”
Woodmore appears to have turned the corner. At 5-3 and 2-3 in the NBC, Woodmore has steadily improved during Coach Britton Devier’s tenure.
“Woodmore has got a high-powered offense,” Spiess said. “And their kids have experience. Outside of Genoa, they’re probably the most experienced team in the league.”
The Wildcat offense he’s referring to is led by senior quarterback Jake Matwiejczyk, who converted 14 of 16 pass attempts for 234 yards and five touchdowns in Woodmore’s 69-0 defeat of NBC foe Fostoria. Wide receiver Evan Ulinski was also instrumental in leading the Wildcats to victory, catching 11 passes for 157 yards and four touchdowns (5, 9, 64, 1 yard) and returned two punts (44, 50) for scores. Running back Tony Rozzi, a steady contributor all season, carried the ball 17 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns.
“We play an up-tempo no huddle spread offense,” Devier said. “Getting first downs is critical to our success (and) we want to move the ball as fast as we can to score.”
After starting 3-0, the Wildcats lost three out of four to fall to 4-3, but righted the ship with their fourth win. Defeating a program like Genoa and finishing 7-3 would give Woodmore an outside shot at making the playoffs.
“The goal of any program in any sport is to compete with the best,” Devier said. “Right now, Genoa is the best team in our conference and has a top tier football program. I have always said that in recent years, Genoa has forced teams in the NBC to get better or get beat up on. When you are building a program you work for signature wins. Genoa would certainly be that for us.”
Spiess says the Genoa game could also be the last for a special senior class that helped to rebuild the Woodmore football program. The seniors, who were freshman when Devier took over in ’10, features the likes of Matwiejczyk, Ulinski, Rozzi, Malachi Brown and Dan Sprinski.
“This senior class is a great group of young men,” Devier said. “As sophomores we were 2-16 as a program. “We were 2-8 on varsity and 0-8 on JV and now have the opportunity to have the first winning season since 2003. They have worked hard to move the program to be competitive each week. This team is very close and that is a tribute to the leadership of the senior class. It has been a pleasure to coach them over the past four years.”
Matwiejczyk said, "I love everything about this team. They're my family and I've grown up with every one of these guys. I have weapons everywhere on the field. I have an outstanding line. I have receivers like Evan, Malachi, Dan (Sprinski), and Brad (Bringman), who run their routes hard and fast, and who I can count on to be open on every play. I also have a great running back (Tony Rozzi), who runs hard and hits his holes as hard as possible. I just love this offense. It's a pick-your-poison type of offense, and it's a dangerous offense for any defense to try to prepare for."
Ulinski echoes, "I like that we don't just rely on any one player and that we can score on any play, with any guy. Our offensive line has given us a running game that we haven't really had in years past. And our running back (Rozzi) has rushed for over 100 yards multiple times this year. It really opens up our scoring. This team plays fast and we score often."
"We are a more confident and resilient team, and we just believe we are a good team. I am very proud to be a part of turning the program around, and I'm excited that every year we're getting better. I have high expectations for the future of this program."
Matwiejczyk adds, "The tradition that's being built. It's exciting to know that I helped start it and I can't wait to come back next year and see Woodmore football being successful in everything they do.
"I've watched Woodmore football ever since I was a kid and it was always my dream to be under those Friday night lights. But to be a key part of the Wildcat resurgence? That's like a dream come true. We're here to prove that we're the new Woodmore football team."