Written by Mark Griffin
Sunday, 12 October 2008 09:21
Genoa football coach Mike Vicars can certainly sympathize with second-year Lake coach Bob Abbey.Last year, Lake finished 0-10 and is trying to turn the corner this season. Through seven games the Flyers put together a 3-4 overall mark, including 1-3 in the Suburban Lakes League.
"Lake has made great strides," said Vicars, whose unbeaten Comets host the Flyers on Oct. 17. "Coming off 0-10 is as hard as anything to do and they have done pretty well. I know, in my first four years as a head coach, we were unlucky enough to go 0-10 twice. It is such a tough experience and such a humbling experience.
“To work so hard, for no rewards of a win, then to come back and get three at this point says a lot about their community, their kids and their coaching staff. In the second year of their system, the kids seem to be adapting well and you can see the work the coaches have done with them.”
Genoa, which hosted Gibsonburg on Oct. 10, has been steamrolling opponents this season. The Comets (7-0, 4-0) ripped SLL rival Eastwood 24-0 in Pemberville last week and will be looking to duplicate last year's 58-6 demolition of Lake when the two teams clash next week.
Vicars said the Comets don't need to be reminded that last week's huge win over Eastwood is history, and that it is “time to re-focus and move forward."
The physical and emotional wear it took on us is reminder enough," Vicars said. "Every week a new team brings about a new challenge. We have a pretty distinct routine each week that moves us on. Our goal each week is to not take steps backwards, but to move forward and get better."
The Flyers don't have any option but to look forward, based on the fact that they host an angry Eastwood team on Oct. 10 and have to bounce back from last Friday's 35-21 loss to Woodmore.
"Our goal all along is about getting better each week and each practice," Abbey said. "To us, it's pretty important on how we focus. We're hoping we're getting better through the season.
“Eastwood has a good program and a very good team, and Genoa is obviously loaded with the kids they have and the coaches they have. Our kids are not going out there to lay their heads down. They're going to play hard and go in to win."
Lake will have its work cut out in trying to decipher Genoa's defense, which is led by leading tacklers Ryan Bless, Marcus Vicars, Seth Dufendock and Greg and Josh Hillabrand. The Comets' defense is allowing just 2.3 yards per rushing attempt and has given up four rushing touchdowns all season.
Genoa held Eastwood to 60 yards rushing on 31 attempts and has given up just 360 yards through the air all season.The Comets' offense has gained 2,082 yards on the ground (6.9 average) and rushed for 35 scores, while its defense has posted four shutouts this season and allowed 25 total points.
Halfback Blair Skilliter leads the Comets with 509 yards rushing and eight touchdowns, while Greg Hillabrand has 470 yards and seven scores.
"We have a major focus right now and that is to win the league," Vicars said. "We have not done that yet. Each week we will grind to get better. If we win our league, then the postseason can be a focus, and to do well there we have to continue to grow and get better."
Lake, meanwhile, has performed better this season because the players are more familiar with new offensive and defensive systems and they are in better condition, according to Abbey.
"The kids are settling in to what we're doing," he said. "And, keeping those injuries down and keeping those starters on the field has helped us."
Leading rusher Nick Mikels, who ran for 230 yards on 32 carries in the loss to Woodmore, leads the Flyers with 832 yards on the ground and eight TDs. Quarterback Mike Mathews is 32-of-92 passing for 563 yards and eight touchdowns.Whether or not Lake will be able to rack up many yards against Genoa remains to be seen.
"We want to be balanced, but the kids are understanding our system more," Abbey said. "It just comes down to execution. The only film we've seen of Genoa is in our preparation for the Eastwood game. (Genoa) runs the wing-T and they have really good athletes."