The Press Newspaper
Genoa is primed and ready for the state playoffs.
The Comets (10-0), the third-ranked team in Division IV, were matched against unbeaten Bryan in the Region 12 opener on Friday at Genoa.
Coach Tim Spiess’ squad, which won its second straight Northern Buckeye Conference championship, steamrolled opponents by a 632-151 scoring margin. The Comets scored more than 80 points on two separate occasions, and the biggest reason for that domination came up front, on both sides of the ball.
Spiess, in his second season as the Comets’ head coach, has been an offensive line coach for 26 years and called this year’s offensive line the best he’s ever had.
“The two best lines I ever coached were the 1999 Liberty Center team and the 2010 Genoa team,” Spiess said.
“This current group is better than those teams. Overall, the athleticism of this group has been what’s set them apart from other teams. Each of those seven linemen are outstanding athletes.”
Genoa’s starting tackles are Michael Deiter (6-5, 304) and Nick Herrick (6-3, 267), guards Blake Traver (5-10, 184) and Jay Nino (6-0, 234), center Tyler Baird (5-11, 207) and tight ends Lucas Apel (6-3, 284) and Quentin Spiess (6-2, 192).
The line helped Genoa rush for 4,371 yards on 469 carries (9.3 average) and average 572 yards of offense a game. Fullback David Nutter leads the Comets in rushing with 1,514 yards and 20 touchdowns on 168 carries.
“Michael Deiter is the clear-cut performer (on the line),” coach Spiess said of the University of Wisconsin recruit.
“He should be named the D-IV Lineman of the Year (in Ohio). He is the best I have ever coached. He has exceeded expectations. We’ve played him at guard, tackle and even tight end. Before his football career is completed, he’ll get to perform on some great stages.”
Deiter also starts at defensive tackle and anchors a D-line that includes ends Quentin Spiess, Cole Beck, Nick Wolfe and Jake Wojciechowski, and tackles Blake Traver and Tyler Rozek. Traver leads the team with 75 tackles, while Deiter and Rozek have 68 each and Spiess has 48. Rozek has a team-high nine sacks.
“We run a lot of substitutes on defense,” coach Spiess said. “It’s a great opportunity for younger players to get their playing time. Sometimes these guys don’t get to play as much defense as they would like. We had 17 different players record a sack this year, and we had 36 different players record a tackle for loss.”
Linebackers Jay Nino (59 tackles), Nutter (58) and Ryan Espinoza will have to play well against Bryan, as will Genoa’s secondary, which has 20 interceptions. Alex Hayes has a team-high seven picks.
The Comets finished fourth in the Region 12 computer ratings behind top seed and fourth-ranked Caledonia River Valley (10-0), top-ranked Kenton (10-0) and Wooster Triway (8-2). Bryan was fifth, followed by eighth-ranked Wauseon (9-1), Galion (9-1) and Lake (8-2).
This year marks Genoa’s seventh trip to the playoffs, where the Comets are 9-6 all-time. This is Bryan’s third trip to the playoffs, qualifying last season and in 2009. The Golden Bears, who won their second straight Northwest Ohio Athletic League title this year, are 1-2 all-time in the postseason.
Tim Spiess has coached in 47 state playoff games and has a 32-15 record as a head coach and as an assistant.
“The playoffs match up the top teams from all over Ohio,” he said. “You are facing league champions, former state champions and teams with a long history. Every game presents its own unique challenge. Bryan is a great football team and they are coached by a good friend of mine, Kevin Kline, and he’s done a great job.”
The Comets finished 11-1 last year after losing to unbeaten Ottawa-Glandorf, 41-12, in the second round of the playoffs.