Are the Comets reloading, or are they rebuilding?

Press Sports Staff

After losing All-Ohioans Jacob Plantz and Drew Bench to graduation, one may ask, is Genoa football reloading or rebuilding?
        Coach Paul Patterson says a little bit of both.
        “We have a decent amount there. We lost a few kids — no doubt about it,” Patterson said. “We have some holes to fill. Really, it’s coming down to our depth and what it is going to be for us is developing our depth as the season goes on because our depth is young kids who don’t have tons of experience.
        “Last year, a lot of our kids in our depth spots had some experience, so this year with graduation, there are some senior kids who have some experience and we drop off to some younger kids who just don’t have much. But they are catching on.
        “We’re working, we’ve had good two-a-days so far and we’ve been happy with what our kids have been doing. Again, we’re young and they are learning, but we’ve done a lot with them and they are picking up things. Depth for us as the year goes on is going to be the key for us.”
        How many kids have experience? You can count 21 returning letter winners — enough to fill a platooned offense and defense.
        “Our running game should be our strength on offense, and defensively our linebackers return with the most game experience,” Patterson said. “Overall depth is the biggest concern.  A number of younger guys are going to have to learn quick and be ready to fill some of the roles.”
        Key for Genoa was its scrimmages against larger schools — Sylvania Northview and Norwalk.
        “We thought it went well. For what we thought we had going into it, once we watched the film and stuff, and I think overall for a first scrimmage our coaches were happy with what our kids did,” Patterson said. “I think are kids are confident, too. They felt pretty good about it after we were done with it.”
        What are Genoa’s chances at repeating for an NBC title?
        “I expect us to compete for the top spot,” Patterson said. “Our league is tough every year because of outstanding players and a group of quality coaches. 
        “I see Eastwood with (running back Jaden) Rayford coming back and they played a lot of young guys last year. They return a lot of guys,” Patterson continued. “I think there is some experience coming back there plus arguably the best player in the league is coming back — the most explosive kid in the league. What they do they are going to do is make sure the ball is in his hands a lot. They’ve got a couple good backs coming back, not just him, so they are going to be good.
        “Rossford, they have the (quarterback Kyle) Kromenaker kid coming back after he got hurt the second half of the year last year. He’s a really good athlete and (coach) Todd (Drusback) does a great job with those kinds of kids — that type of quarterback fits his offense to a tee and I think they have some good, young skilled kids coming up, too.
        “Lake lost a lot and a new coach, but somebody who has been around in that program and I think they are going to be just fine with that. (Otsego) Coach Matt (Dzierwa) does a great job and I think they are in the same boat we are — they just lost a lot of really good skilled people who have played a lot for them the last few years, and I think they are kind of replacing their skilled kids, too.”
One of the biggest areas of concern is replacing all-state kicker Sam Witt, who is a senior, but tore an ACL again this summer. He tore the ACL on his other leg last year and is currently undergoing rehabbing, but Patterson says his chances of being on the field this year are slim to none. Witt also was a key player in the offensive backfield and on defense, but the search is underway for a new kicker.
        “We’re working with a few kids — we’ve got a couple of younger kids who are looking at kicking or we might be grabbing a soccer kid — we’re working with him, so we’ll see how they do in scrimmages and stuff,” Patterson said.
        The defense is similar — plenty of returning players with experience, and others fighting for key positions.
        “The defense, up front, some of those experience guys like Gage Gallagher, who came in as a sophomore last year and played real well for us,” Patterson said. “And then Grant Goodman is definitely going to play more defense than what he did last year for us.
        “We’re moving Danny Baker from defensive end and he’s going to be more of a linebacker this year with Novotney and we have a nice sophomore, Colton Stewart, who played JV for us and he’s going to have a nice year at linebacker for us this year.”
        Eastwood was unable to win a Northern Buckeye Conference championship last season, which ended with a 31-0 loss to Lake in the season finale.
        That’s ancient history as far as coach Craig Rutherford is concerned. Eastwood welcomes back eight starters on defense and seven on offense.
        “We think we have a really balanced schedule,” Rutherford said. “Our non-league games are good and our conference is as good as it’s ever been. It’s all about the way we prepare week in and out. As much experience as we have back, we have the potential to be really good. Like any small school, we don’t have a ton of depth. If everything comes together, I think we’re going to be in the mix.”
        At Lake, coach Josh Andrews takes over for Mark Emans, who retired in the offseason after seven years at Lake. Andrews, who played for Emans at Wauseon, served as an assistant coach with the Flyers the past six years.
        Last year’s team averaged more than 30 points a game and reached the Division V playoffs, losing to Genoa in the first round. The Flyers return three starters on offense and five on defense, with 12 seniors and 12 lettermen. The roster also includes 17 sophomores.
        “Their role is really to give people spells when they need it on on offense and defense and to really solidify our special teams,” Andrews said. “We have numerous kids going both ways, including quarterback.”
        Northwood coach Ken James enters the 2019 season looking for his 200th career win with the Rangers.
Northwood rolled through the Toledo Area Athletic Conference last season and reached the Division VI playoffs, losing at Jeromesville Hillsdale in the first round.
The Rangers open the season Aug. 30 at Woodmore. The TAAC has been reduced to seven teams due to Toledo Christian dropping out and going to eight-man football.
“If we stay healthy, we can be a real competitive team,” James said. “We have to get out of the gate fast. Right now the chemistry is becoming what we want it to be, and that helps a team be competitive. We have a string of tough games early and we have to get through that healthy.”


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