Only two games away from his 100th career victory, Genoa boys soccer coach Dave Bertz is stepping down.
"It was just time. Time to be grandpa," Bertz explains. "I thought about sticking around one more year and getting 100 wins and everything. You know, it would have been the wrong reason to stay. Had we won some games we should've won, I would have had it last year so it's my own fault. Tell you what, it was fun."
Bertz provided the foundation for a perennial championship program at Genoa, and leaves with 98 wins. Taking his place is Kenny Katschke, an assistant the last three years, a former travel coach, and the father of senior center-midfielder Cody Katschke.
"He's putting a big thing on my shoulders, isn't he? Well, we hope we can keep it going," Coach Katschke said.
Katschke saw his son advance through the Swiss Baysiders, the ESSL Arsenal, and then travel the Midwest with the Pacesetters. He will be assisted by another son, Kenny Jr., who played three years under his father.
Bertz believes the first-year head coach will be fine, considering all the talent already instilled into the program. Plus, Cody is in position to set some new school scoring records this fall. Cody, a returning Third Team All-Ohio pick and Suburban Lakes League Player of the Year, scored 30 goals as a freshman, 18 as a sophomore, and 20 last season.
"They are going to have a great team this year. They are loaded," Bertz said. "They have a team that made it to the regional last year (lost to Napoleon), and they are going to have everybody back and they are going to have some great young players. They are going to have a nice team."
If Coach Katschke has learned anything about the game of soccer, it is the importance of keeping his athletes well-conditioned.
"They definitely have to run and they have to be in shape," the new head coach said. "I guess the biggest thing is just dealing with an older bunch. I started out with younger kids who were 6-years-old through 14, 15 years old, and, with Dave, jumped into 18-19 years old from there, which is a big difference. Of course, Dave helped a lot on that end."
The 2008 Comets have already backed up the former coach's statements, getting four wins and a tie while not even getting scored upon in a Perrysburg pre-season tournament before moving on to similar matches with Bowling Green and Otsego.
"It was really a good start with our defense. We're getting there," Coach Katschke said. "The defense I was really happy with since they didn't get scored on. Then offense — you know, in the preseason it takes a while to get going."
The Comets lost goalie Zach Apel to graduation. In 19 games last season, Apel allowed 27 goals and had 10½ shutouts, while Brandon Floro, who returns, allowed only two goals in another game and had one half-game shutout. This season, the Comets are going with new blood in goal.
"We've got a young kid coming in as goalie, Josh McCoy, that we're hoping on," Coach Katschke said. "We're going to see what he can do here. He's really impressed us so far this spring and summer."
In all, the 2007 Comets outscored opponents 45 to 29, and had 260 shots while allowing opponents 108. In 20 games, Cody Katschke also had 10 assists in leading Genoa to a 13-7 season, 6-2 in the Suburban Lakes League.
"We're counting on him big time this year. We've got five seniors we're counting on this year along with Cody," Coach Katschke said.
The coach said his son has several colleges interested, but he has made no commitments yet.
"It's really hopeful right now. He's concentrating right now on soccer. That's what he wants to do and that's all he wants to do," Dad said.
Cody will be assisted at midfield by two other seniors, Cody Harder and Alan Scheanwald. Harder scored seven goals and had eight assists last year, and Scheanwald added an assist. Meanwhile, Coach Katschke expects his defense to be spearheaded by Floro.
As far as the SLL, Coach Katschke says it's wait and see right now whether the Comets can defend their title. He's not making any predictions or promises for Comet soccer fans.
"I know Lake has a new coach, and I don't know what to expect from them. Eastwood is always tough," the coach said.
Bertz is helping Coach Katschke organize Genoa's third annual alumni game. The soccer program is seeking former players to participate at the school stadium August 16, starting at 6 p.m. Call Bertz at 419-855-3632 or Katschke at 419-345-8926.
"It seems to get bigger and bigger every year. We're happy with it," Coach Katschke said.