The Press Newspaper
Tyler Pickard was a rugged running back and punishing linebacker for the Genoa
Comets' 11-1 state-playoff football team, even though as a back-up.
Don't think for second that the 5-10, 177 pound sophomore was merely content to pace up and down the sidelines.
One season ago, as a still-wet-behind-the-ears freshmen, Pickard was already toting the rock to glory for both the JV and freshmen squads and picking off last-minute, last-ditch passes by the Flyers to seal the deal for the ninth-graders on the SLL title.
This year on the Friday night varsity stage, he played a different role. Pickard personally accounted for a good number of the Comets' record-breaking 600 points as their chip-shot PAT ace.
Pickard took over the reigns of the Comets' kicking duties once the dust finally settled on a disappointing state final four loss to Kettering Alter in 2008. Then-incumbent PAT man James Leach was lost to a move to North Carolina, and both Blair Skilliter and starting punter Marcus Vicars to graduation.
This season, Pickard successfully banged home 62 of his 74 extra-point attempts (84 percent) with only two blocked, and 11 of his 17 field goal tries, which scores him a highly-respectable 65 percent in that category.
He split the uprights from 45 yards out in a late season home game, shattering the previous school record. He also currently owns the Genoa record for most career FGs which bounced Leach's three.
And even though nicknamed "Mr. Moneyshot," he did come up a nickel short when his kicked sailed just wide right and the Comets missed tying the Orrville Red Riders in a gut-wrenching Division-IV regional semi-final 36-35 playoff loss. What "T-Pick" may remember is that even the great ones like Tom Dempsey, Jan Stenerud, Morten Anderson, and Jason Elam sometimes faltered.
Pickard also carried the football 36 times for 268 yards and five touchdowns from the Genoa backfield, which surprisingly scored Pickard the SLL's third leading scorer honor (125 total points) behind only Greg Hillabrand and Connor Wendt.
Pickard also handled all the punting duties and long-distance field goal attempts on his way to garnering his second varsity letter in as many years, both All-Suburban Lakes League and Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press first team selections, a "Golden Microphone" award from WRSCradio.com, and a footnote in Genoa football history.
Pickard had 18 punts for 699 yards, and an average of 38.8, and a long kick of 53, with six landing inside the 20.
"Actually, I had never even really played football seriously, until I played for the Genoa Little Comets in fifth grade," said 15-year-old "T-Pick."
"But I also did always play soccer when I was a kid, from about the time I was 8-years-old, all the way up until I turned 14, which kind of shows why I have such a strong leg," continues Pickard.
"Football has always been my favorite sport, so that's why I chose to play that, instead of soccer, once I got to high school," he adds. "So, right away, and all last year, I got the opportunity to handle the kicking responsibilities for the freshmen and the JV.
“I kicked off in every one of our playoff games, except for the one against Alter. And I got to kick off on the varsity, when Blair would come off the field after a big 80-yard run or something, and was tired. And then this year, well, I guess I got the job because our team needed a new kicker, since Blair left. I've been very proud to play the role of Blair Skilliter for my team this year."
"Would I much rather be out there, and hitting guys on defense, and carrying the ball on offense, and doing whatever?" Pickard poses. "I think anyone would. But this year…you have guys like Greg (Hillabrand) and Seth (Dufendock) playing in front of you, you really can't complain.
“Anyway, I'm like one of those types of guys who always gets butterflies in his stomach. I was really nervous coming in this summer, knowing that I might have to fill the role as our starting kicker. But as the season went on, I got a lot more comfortable with my role. I've definitely gained a lot more confidence when it comes to kicking the football. And I think it's because of Greg, and Seth, and the older guys. Because they've always done a really good job of making me feel like I fit in,” Pickard said.
"I mean, Seth treats me just like any of my friends in my own grade would treat me, he's always talking to me, he's always encouraging me," adds "T-Pick."
"And Greg, I'm out there with him at practice, and doing running back drills every day. He helps me out, and shows me what to do, and I watch everything he does, because I'd really love to fill his role someday. There's Jon Lester, who always came up to me after my field goals, and gave me high-fives.
“There's Scott Traver, who is a great holder. And really just all the guys, who always kept me up, and made me feel confident about myself this year. Sometimes, I even hear things like, ‘You know, if you keep it up, and you keep working hard, maybe one day you can go D-I.’ And that makes me feel good. But right now, I'm just concentrating on working harder, and getting better, and doing my part for this team."
Pickard joins this year's breakout players in juniors Matt Murphy, Zach Lopez, Woodmore-transfer Chris Cuevas, fellow sophomore Devin Sibby (transfer from Perrysburg), and freshman Kyle Nutter, which bodes very well for Coach Vicars's stable of running backs for a long time to come.
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