The Press Newspaper
The No. 3 ranked Genoa football team is good — no doubt about it.
But how good are they?
There is talk of a Division IV state championship, but the 11-0 Comets have a long ways to go before that. There are five weeks of playoffs, and Coach Mike Vicars knows that.
Plus there is the No. 1 team, defending state champion Kettering Archbishop Alter. Alter is undefeated at 11-0 and also cutting through opposition like a knife through butter.
Last season, Alter (13-2) defeated Genoa (13-1) 42-37 in a state semi-final and went on to defeat Steubenville in the state final by two touchdowns.
Genoa’s contest with Alter was the closest the Dayton area Catholic school had seen all season and it was the most points scored against Alter. Alter did have two losses, but those were both by forfeit because of an ineligible player.
The Genoa-Alter rematch looms in the state semi-final or championship this season, depending on how the Ohio High School Athletic Association pairs them once both have won regional championships — if they both win regional championships.
In addition, a rematch with Eastwood looms this week if the Eagles were able to defeat Ottawa-Glandorf and the Comets were able to take down Orrville Saturday night.
Vicars has hinted he would enjoy a rematch with Eastwood — one played two years ago won by Eastwood on Lake’s field was reminiscent of playoff rematches among two schools in his former league, Liberty Center and Patrick Henry.
Vicars, a “Liberty” graduate, coached at Delta in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League before arriving in Genoa.
Vicars recalls Genoa’s 2008 regular season game against Eastwood as being "a lot of fun."
"There was a big crowd," he said. "We took advantage of a couple mistakes they made and it snowballed after halftime. It was 7-0 at halftime and it was easy for us to be patient with a 7-0 lead. Field position was pretty big. We were able to establish field position during the game and we had them backed up. Our offense had some short field to work with and that made it a lot easier."
Maybe Eastwood, the only team to reach double figures (54-11 Comet victory) against Genoa this season, can be better prepared a second time.
You can look at Genoa’s statistics this year, and they are impressive. Genoa has outscored opponents 593 to 31 through 11 straight victories.
The stats could be even more impressive if they had not played second and third string players in every game.
Comet running back Greg Hillabrand, a Lake transfer a few years back, leads the area with 1,354 yards rushing after Genoa’s win over Edison in playoff week one. That number, too, would be even higher if he had played four quarters every game. Same goes with other starters.
Nineteen players on the Comet team have combined for a total of 3,642 net yards rushing this season. Add 1,429 yards passing, and the Comets have totalled 5,076 total yards.
But there are other sensations out there, and one of them is Woodmore sophomore quarterback Jon Sandwisch, who has been hailed as the Wildcats’ future. He completed 92-of-187 yards for 1,434 yards through the air and 13 touchdowns.
"He's continued to grow. He still has a long way to go and a lot to learn, and can learn, to be that much better of a quarterback. We expect him to continue to grow. For him to have the year he's had this year has been very good for him and good for this team because of his throwing ability and being able to get the ball to some of those receivers."
Of course, Sandwisch is followed by Genoa senior quarterback Mike Bassitt, who has completed 84-of-127 yards (66 percent completion rate) for 1,404 yards. Bassitt will probably have surpassed Sandwisch in total yardage by the time the Genoa-Orrville game is over.
Then there is a third playoff team, Toledo Area Athletic Conference champion Northwood. The Rangers have seven running backs among the leaders, a testament to the fortitude of the team.
As a team, Northwood rushed for 3,859 total yards with Zach Bermejo leading the way with 907 yards (8.1 per carry).
Northwood blitzed through the TAAC schedule, perfect in six games, and gave Division 5, No. 1-ranked Patrick Henry more than expected, despite a 41-14 Patriot victory in the opening week of playoffs.