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Home Sports Sports Comets continue dream season despite pain, injuries
Comets continue dream season despite pain, injuries
Written by Jeffrey D. Norwalk   
Friday, 26 September 2008 08:48
SOMEWHERE IN THE BLEACHERS — Ask any diehard Genoa football fan who’s anchored down a spot in the home stands at Comet Stadium, and the first thing they will tell you is how their favorite team seem to be piling up so many points.

Like some sort of unstoppable, runaway, maroon-and-gray avalanche, Genoa is outscoring its opponents to the awesome tune of 248-19.

But while getting out to a whirlwind 5-0 start, they’re also beginning to accumulate bodies on their own sidelines.
In Genoa’s 55-0 scalping of Mohawk, the Comets got slightly ambushed by the dehydration of junior wide receiver Jon Lester.

Against Oak Harbor, sophomore long snapper Justin Upham was getting carefully carried off the field on a stretcher, his neck being warily supported by EMTs on an otherwise historic evening during which the maroon and gray finally made their rival Rockets of Oak Harbor see stars in a 61-0 Celestial Bowl drubbing.

All of “Comet Nation” once again collectively held its breath two weeks later when pivotal junior quarterback Matt Bassitt was helped gingerly to the locker room by a pair of teammates, all the while wincing in obvious pain over some kind of ankle injury.

Two short, soggy quarters later star senior receiver Zach “Latino Fire” Apel spit up blood on a knotty, pine bench after being speared in the chest in the late stanza of the 14-0 “Hurricane Ike-Lite Bowl.”

That cold, nervous feeling crept over the “Comet Crazies” for a fifth Friday in a row during Genoa’s 63-12 dismantling of Woodmore when junior halfback, explosive starting corner, and special teams’ heat-seeking missile Connor Wendt suddenly, and surprisingly fizzled out. Wendt was later spotted sitting all alone on the bench, a coat draped over his strong shoulders, and looking weak and dazed from a touch of the flu.

“With any football team, you’re always going to have some situations like these to deal with,” offers Coach Mike Vicars.

In Genoa’s 55-7, week three demolition of the invading Redskins of Port Clinton, his own son Marcus — a standout senior fullback, linebacker, and team leader — was dealt the Comets’ most potentially-devastating injury yet. Marcus had a badly-mangled left index finger which was stepped on and subsequently ground into the turf in the first quarter against PC. It was an injury that required surgery on September  11 to repair the damages.

“Having depth, and developing depth is a huge key throughout any season,” Coach Vicars reassures, “and as an example, I think (junior) Alex Eckel has filled in at fullback and linebacker, and done a great job. I think (junior) Cody Vincent has done a nice job at center for (senior) Jake Murphy (out for discipline). Zach Apel and (junior) Richard Wonnell have played more both ways in Jon Lester’s absence. And (sophomore) Andrew Hayes has done a nice job in Justin Upham’s absence, at the long snapper position.

“But now, Lester is back, after being out a couple of weeks with water poisoning,” reports the coach, “as is Upham, who returned against Elmwood after suffering a concussion. (Senior) Greg Fryer, who suffered a broken collarbone during preseason 7-on-7s, will be out at least a few more weeks. And, we’ve had a little flu going around these past weeks, including Connor, but all in all, we aren’t as bad off as we could be.”

With yet another classic slugfest with heavyweight Eastwood looming on the horizon for perhaps all of the marbles, this is one devoted fan and former Comet wide receiver (Class of 1990) who has exhaled and stopped squirming in his well-worn, maroon and gray bleacher cushion.

For me, when the lights finally do go down until next year, I will remember an inspirational, heartwarming clip of Justin Upham smiling, and giving the thumbs-up to the home crowd “NFL-style” in the Oak Harbor game after being attended to by Allen-Clay Joint Fire District emergency technicians.

Marcus “the Machine” Vicars, who cast in the same “I ain’t got time to bleed” mold as both his father and his older brother Derrick, proved it when he refused to leave the Genoa sidelines even though his mangled-up finger was hurt so bad.

Marcus came back the week after Elmwood to gut out 82 yards on the ground on 11 attempts and two touchdowns, his giant, white hook of a heavily-bandaged left index finger sticking out, and exposed, and being desperately banged on by the Wildcats, and all.

Matt Bassitt on that wet, and wild, and windy early September Friday night in Bloomdale, had his ankle so dinged up, and heavily-taped, that in the second half it was unable to plant it effectively to fire a single game-changing pass to Apel.

Despite the pain, it may have given the Comets one last leg to stand on when star Royal quarterback Reid Rothenbuhler and his receivers were threatening to further dampen Genoa’s evening.
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By: Jeffrey D. Norwalk

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