Written by Mark Griffin
Sunday, 02 November 2008 11:14
Genoa's football team had been a non-factor in the Suburban Lakes League race for several years, but even second-year coach Mike Vicars is surprised by the Comets' success the past two seasons.
Prior to last year the Comets were a combined 9-31 the previous four seasons and hadn't won an SLL title since 1994. Last year, Genoa went 10-2 and took the league title and won the first playoff game in school history.
"The turnaround like we have had is incredible," Vicars admitted. "It's a testimony of the type of kids we're working with."
Vicars used as an example the fact that of the Comets' 55 players in grades 9-12 this season, 28 of those had a 3.0 grade-point average or better. Of those 55 players, only one player received as low as a D on his report card.
"It just shows you their intelligence," Vicars said. "They're really coachable and they can handle adjustments and things like that. They're just quality kids. They transpire what you teach them and they take it out there on the field. They're sponges and able to take it and put it in motion.
"Every coach knows what they're doing, but the key is it's not what you know, it's what (the players) know. When you have a group of guys like this, it makes it that much easier."
Fourth-ranked Genoa (10-0) won the SLL again this season and advanced to the Division IV state playoffs. The Comets, the No. 4 seed in Region 14, hosted fifth-seeded Huron (8-2), a runner-up to Clyde in the Sandusky Bay Conference, on Friday.
Another SLL team, Eastwood (8-2), qualified for the Division IV playoffs in the same region and traveled to 10th-ranked Marion Pleasant, a member of the Mid-Ohio Conference, on Friday.
The two SLL rivals could meet in the playoffs for the second straight year - Eastwood won last year's matchup - but only if both teams win two playoff games to reach the regional finals.
An Eastwood win over Marion Pleasant (9-1) would send the sixth-seeded Eagles to the second round against either Lorain Clearview (10-0) or Ottawa-Glandorf (6-4).
Genoa, which beat Eastwood 24-0 in the regular season, would face either Fostoria (9-1) or Sparta Highland (6-4) in the second round with a win this week.
Vicars, the former coach at Delta, has played Huron once before. His Panthers defeated the Tigers 31-28 in the Divison IV playoffs in 2003.
Despite losing several key players from last year's team, Vicars said a "good indicator" of how good the 2008 Comets would be was when they blasted Mohawk 55-0 in the season opener. Mohawk went on to finish 4-6 this season.
Vicars then said the Genoa coaches knew they had a playoff-caliber team when the Comets shut out Eastwood on Oct. 3.
"That was a really good win for us," Vicars said. "We knew then we had a pretty good team.
We played a really good second half. We had a complete collection of everything - rush defense, pass defense, we ran well and threw the ball well. We had a complete, collective effort that was a really good team outing for us back then."
Genoa has outscored opponents by a 498-47 margin this season.