This was a special class, no doubt about it.
Genoa's Class of 2014, which graduated earlier this month, featured a number of stellar athletes and several elite teams that left a mark in the school's history.
In the fall, the football team helped to continue the incredible seven-year run that began when Tim Spiess and Mike Vicars arrived and turned things around. This year's squad, easily one of the best in school history, went 10-1, won the Northern Buckeye Conference title and fell in heartbreaking fashion to second-ranked Bryan, 43-36, in the playoffs. Many prep gridiron fans believe that if the Comets had defeated the Golden Bears, they would've had a good shot at winning the Division IV state title.
Quarterback Logan Scott, who will play football at Defiance College this fall, says the bond that existed between the 17 seniors helped the team have so much success over the past three years.
"Even since freshman year, we've always been really close," said Scott, one of the most decorated quarterbacks in the program's history. "We would hang out outside of football, we were good friends. Once you got on the field with that, you had at least 16 other players that you could trust, so it made it easier to play together.
“The most important thing when you look at this class is that none of us were selfish and we did whatever it took for the team to win and we didn't care about personal records. We didn't care about how many times we touched the ball. Spiess and Vicars always preached to us, 'Do it for the team, not for yourself.'"
Scott, along with other star players like Casey Gose, David Nutter, Michael Deiter, Quentin Spiess and Ryan Espinoza, got much of the accolades for the team's success but says the role players and those who did their job by blocking and tackling were just as important.
"I think that shows how much heart and how much this group of guys cared about the team," said Scott, who threw for 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns last season while setting a single-game school record with 336 passing yards in one game. "Even though they knew they weren't going to get as much playing time, they knew they were going to contribute to our success. That's one of the most important things when you talk about chemistry. That shows how trusting those guys are and how much character they have."
Gose, who excelled at running back this year after being used primarily as a wide receiver and kick returner in the previous two years, says this group of seniors had its own kind of camaraderie.
"All of us played football from fifth grade until this year, except for a select few," said Gose, who will play baseball next year at Owens Community College. "I would say everyone really gets along. I think it was because we got along and had the same goals and knew what we were there for. I think our class is really close as a whole, and I think that's what also helped is that people would come and support us (at the games). People were always helping us out. That helped out a lot, too."
One game from state
Gose and five fellow seniors, Scott, Spiess, Alex Hayes, Gabe Yanez and Grant Adams were part of the baseball team that had an incredible two-year run. This season, Genoa finished second in the league and won a sectional title before coming within one out of advancing to the district final.
But it was last year that the team left its mark.
The Comets, after finishing third in the NBC, embarked on one of the best tournament runs in school history, making it to the Division III regional final. The run, which included five wins, saw Genoa defeat Elmwood, 3-2, in nine innings in the sectional semifinals before edging Lake, 3-2, in the sectional final. After blowing out Sherwood Fairview, 13-1, the Comets narrowly defeated Evergreen, 5-4, and beat Lima Central Catholic, 8-3, in the regional semifinals. In the regional final game that would have advanced them to state, they lost to No. 8 ranked Bloom-Carroll, 8-1, ending Genoa’s season at 20-10.
"I'm going to remember that every game we played, and it came down to the last inning," said Gose, who earned first team all-league honors in center field this year, plus area coaches voted him to the Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press first team.
"We were all so young and we didn't have any seniors,” Gose continued. “It was so cool that we all stepped up and showed leadership. Baseball is such a weird sport, anything can really happen, and you really have to live in the moment."
It was a special experience for Scott, too.
"For me personally, it's a lot more fun when you win by one or two runs," said Scott, a first team NBC and All-Press selection at first base. "It makes the victory sweeter than if you blow the team out. We got beat by Lake both times in the league and we beat them by one run (in the tournament). Winning in that fashion boosted our confidence. We thought, 'Hey, maybe we can do something.' Going into the tournament last year, nobody expected us to do anything."
Those two consecutive seasons have helped the Comet baseball program return to the successful days of the past.
"When Coach Rightnowar came here, he said, 'We are going to make people care about baseball again. In one or two years, people are going to know who Genoa is not just for football but for baseball,'" Scott said. "Knowing that people know us in Genoa for baseball, that's a greater win. Getting more people out to the games, it's nice knowing that the baseball players feel like they're important and that they're not just living in the football team's shadow."
Seniors on the wrestling team had a magnificent run as well, winning the NBC for the second straight season and third time in four years. A group of six seniors, Max Reeder, Nathan Moore, Cody Buckner, Tyler Rozak, Dustin Widmer and Robert Roginski led the Comets to new heights, and three of them, Reeder, Moore and Buckner, advanced to the state meet. As a team, Genoa was 16th in Division III with 16 points. The Comets also won their sectional, finished third at districts and had four league champions.
Individually, Logan Bryer won the Division II state title in the shot put with a throw of 55 feet, 8 inches and was third in the discus (171-4). Bryer, who will be attending the University of Kentucky to compete with the track team, was second in the discus two years ago.
Nutter will be joining his brother, Kyle, at Malone University to play football and Deiter is already practicing with the football team at the Univ. of Wisconsin. Ciara Albright, a standout in basketball and softball, will play basketball at Columbus State Community College next year.