David Nutter ran for 378 yards on 44 carries last season for the Comets. Genoa has reached the state playoffs six straight seasons.
Genoa's return to the top of the standings in 2012 is a familiar perch for a program that continues to be a consistent force.
Last season, the Comets (11-1 overall) won their first title in the Northern Buckeye Conference (7-0) and earned a No. 5 state ranking in Division IV under first-year coach Tim Spiess.
Genoa has won five titles in six years including the final four Suburban Lakes League championships (2007-10) with a 67-8 overall record during that span.
The Comets were a near unanimous preseason pick in a coaches poll to repeat as NBC champion.
“We have had high expectations since our arrival here in 2007 and we are very encouraged going into 2013,” Spiess said. “This is one of the faster and more physical teams in my career.”
READ MORE: 2013 High School Football Preview
Eastwood, which won the inaugural NBC title in 2011 and finished tied for second last season, is again expected to be a top contender.
This will be the first season Spiess will be without longtime friend Mike Vicars. Spiess spent five seasons as an assistant under Vicars beginning in 2007. Under Vicars the Comets reeled off 48 straight regular-season wins before falling in the 2011 regular-season finale 25-23 to Eastwood.
The pair switched roles last season and Genoa qualified for the playoffs for the sixth straight season. But Vicars has left to become the coach at Delta, his previous stop before coming to Genoa.
Eastwood, which has many of their skill players back this season, received one first-place vote and was predicted to finish second.
Woodmore, which has an experienced senior class and many starters back, is expected to move up from a 2-5 NBC finish last season to contend for the title. The Wildcats upset Eastwood 27-20 in week No. 9 last year.
The rest of the poll had Rossford fourth followed by Lake, Otsego, Elmwood, and Fostoria.
Genoa lost two All-Ohio first-team players to graduation but senior lineman Michael Dieter (6-foot-5, 308) returns.
Genoa running back Ryan Espinoza rushed for 381 yards on 42 carries last season to help the Comets win the NBC championship, their fifth league title in six years.
Dieter, who has committed to play in college at Wisconsin, earned All-Ohio second team after making 58 tackles, including nine sacks, as a junior.
He will lead the way for senior running backs David Nutter, who carried 44 times 378 yards, and Ryan Espinoza (42 for 381). Junior kicker Cody Pickard, who earned All-Ohio first team, also returns.
Jerry Rutherford enters is 32nd season at the helm of the Eagles. Eastwood has won eight league titles under Rutherford including five straight Suburban Lakes League titles from 2002-06. The Eagles also have made seven playoff appearances under Rutherford with the last coming in 2011.
Rossford won six games under coach Todd Drusback after winning only one game the previous two seasons.
At Lake, former Wauseon football coach Mark Emans takes over a program that went 4-6 under another first-year coach last year (Bob Olwin). Emans coached at Wauseon for 21 seasons before stepping down prior to the 2011 season. Emans led the Indians to a Division III state championship in 1993 and compiled a 118-99 record there.
Lake is seeking its first league title since 2001.
Matt Dzierwa, an assistant at Otsego for seven seasons under former coach Erik Johnson, takes over the Knights' program.
Contact Mark Monroe at: email@example.com, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.