MILLBURY – Smash mouth football is popular in the communities of Genoa and Pemberville.
The stands at Lake High School Saturday night were packed and fans were standing two to three deep around the field to watch Genoa and Eastwood High Schools play in the Ohio state playoffs. The chilled faithful were treated to a hard fought game that saw the Eastwood Eagles avenged their only regular season loss by defeating the Genoa Comets, 14-7.
The first half belonged to Eastwood. Genoa could not get anything going and when they did they turned the ball over to the aggressive and active Eastwood defense.
Eastwood, in its typical style, utilized the clock and executed two long scoring drives (52 yards, 65 yards) behind the hard running of offensive workhorse, Jeremy Foster who had 115 yards on 33 carries. Foster scored on runs of two yards and 12 yards while rushing for 95 yards in the first half and, in the progress, ate up over 12 minutes off the clock.
Genoa’s first half offense was virtually non-existent. The Comets workhorse tailback Derrick Vicars (18 carries for 47 yards) was shut down by the Eastwood defense and had far fewer carries than usual. Coach Vicars dismissed the possibility that Derrick was hurt.
“We just made too many mistakes. I thought we played a little bit scared. This is a big stage and we were just nervous early,” said Genoa head coach Mike Vicars. “It took us a whole half to adjust and you can't do that at this level.”
In the second half the Comets did adjust and they owned the half offensively but they did not own it enough to overcome the Eagles 14 point first half advantage. Although they moved the ball with efficiency and managed to come within a touchdown of tying the score when Derrick Vicars plunged into the end zone from the two yard line, turnovers made it impossible for the Comets to do any better.
On three separate occasions Genoa’s young sophomore quarterback, Matt Bassitt, was victimized by interceptions in the second half and each of the interceptions negated potential scoring drives.
“Our defense kept stepping up in the second half,” Eastwood coach Jerry Rutherford said. “We didn't stop them completely. But we stopped them when we had to.”
With their win the Eagles have made their best showing in the state playoffs and are not set to meet Marion Pleasant in the regional finals next Saturday. The game will be played in Findlay’s refurbished Donnell Stadium and will begin at 7 pm.
Eastwood and Marion Pleasant sport identical 11-1 records.
The Comets’ season ends at 10-2 but claim to the undisputed Suburban Lakes League title.