Genoa halfback Blair Skilliter may not lead local football teams in total yardage, but he may be the most exciting to watch.
It was Skilliter’s 46-yard run that broke open the first round 47-21 playoff win over Huron with the Tigers leading in the second quarter, 7-0. In the second half, he picked up a fumble caused and ran 20 yards into the end zone as the rout began.
By the time the Comets either win a state championship or finish their Division IV playoff run, Skilliter may have the most total yardage. The senior running back comes from a long line of Skilliters who have made a name for themselves on the sports fields of Genoa.
During the regular season, Skilliter’s speed allowed him to score 16 touchdowns, run for 694 yards on 71 carries (9.8 average), and catch seven passes for 140 yards (20 yards per catch).
Skilliter edged out Northwood quarterback Kyle Gunn for Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Offensive Player of the Year award.
The 5-8, 175 pound Skilliter doubles up as a first team All-Press linebacker for the Comets. Skilliter has also been nominated for the Army Iron Man of the Week as the best two-way high school football high school player in Ohio. Fans from across the state can vote for the weekly winner online at http://thesportsflash.com/USArmyIronMan-OH.html.
The First-Team All-SLL specialist also ignited the members of Comet Nation lining the perimeter of Genoa Comets Stadium this fall every time he got his hands on the pigskin as a punt and kick returner, too. Skilliter even kicked two field goals for the Comets this season.
For Genoa coach Mike Vicars, giving the award to any individual may have little significance since the Comets have numerous playmakers who in any given game can break away for six points.
Ten local football coaches and eight media members voted with the final count for The Press’ top offensive player award split among Skilliter and Gunn.
Why Gunn, when he was voted second team quarterback behind Clay senior Drew Kuns? Kuns completed 140 of 211 passes for an amazing 66 percent and 1,776 yards, but Gunn amassed 2,139 yards rushing and passing.
Others receiving votes for Offensive Player of the Year included Kuns, Clay senior tailback Mike Toth, and Skilliter’s partner in the backfield, Comet junior running back Greg Hillabrand. Toth led the area with 1,155 yards and 24 touchdowns rushing and is a first team running back.
Skilliter is joined by teammate Marcus Vicars, a senior linebacker, and his coach, Mike Vicars, with the Defensive Player of the Year and Coach of the Year Awards. Both Marcus and father Mike ran away with voting in those categories.
But also receiving votes for Defensive Player of the Year were Clay senior defensive lineman Zach Knopp, Genoa defensive lineman Ryan Bless, Cardinal Stritch defensive back Max Wuest, Northwood linebacker Justin Grindle, Eastwood strong safety Mark Schult, Waite defensive back Tyler Benton, Clay defensive back Jay Hornyak, and Eastwood cornerback Nick Schmeltz.
Schmeltz led the area with six interceptions and was a first team choice. Knopp was the only defensive player besides Vicars to get multiple votes, as all the rest received just one.
But Genoa coach Michael Vicars, a transplant two years ago from Delta and his native habitat, Liberty Center, garnered double-digit votes for Coach of the Year, easily outdistancing Northwood coach Ken James and Clay coach Mike Donnelly, who also received votes.
On the first and second teams, the undefeated and state-ranked Comets (12-0) garnered 13 award winners, playoff-qualifier Eastwood (8-3) has 12, Clay (7-3) has 10, and Toledo Area Athletic Conference champion Northwood (9-1) has eight.
Genoa was among 19 undefeated teams out of 48 total that are still alive in the state playoffs heading into the Comets’ playoff game Friday night against Ottawa-Glandorf at Bowling Green State University’s Doyt Perry Field.
If the Comets defeated the Titans in the Division IV regional final Friday night, possible teams they would be playing in the state semifinals and state championship the next two weeks are Steubenville (12-0), Perry (11-1), Martins Ferry (11-1), New Lexington (11-1), defending state champion Coldwater (12-0), and Kettering Alter (10-2).