Wednesday, Jun 29, 2016
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Genoa, Eastwood seeking SLL title

It's the final chance for Genoa and Eastwood to meet with a Suburban Lakes League football championship most likely hinging upon the outcome.

No two teams have won more SLL crowns than the Comets and Eagles. Genoa won the league's first in 1972 and has won or shared 11 titles. Eastwood is second with nine.

“It's certainly a major step in the right direction, history has shown that,” Genoa coach Mike Vicars said. “There's no question if you're going to contend the rest of the way this is a game you're going to have to win.”

The Comets (5-0, 1-0 SLL) have won the last three league championships under Vicars. Along the way, Genoa has strung together 34 straight regular-season victories, including a 19-0 mark in SLL contests.

Eastwood (3-2, 2-0), coached by Jerry Rutherford, who is in his 29th season, had won at least a share of the SLL championship five years straight before Genoa's current reign.

The Eagles have only lost three league games during the last three seasons — all of them against the Comets.

“We know to win a league championship you're going to have to beat Genoa,” Rutherford said. “Mike has come in and beat us the last three years. It has come down to one game and that could be the same this year.”

It's a rivalry that involves equal amounts of respect for each team.

“We've got a lot of respect for what they're about and I think they have respect for our program,” Rutherford said.

The Comets coach expressed similar thoughts about the game expected to draw another large crowd as it has in the past.

“It is a rivalry game, but it's a fun game because I think both schools have respect for one another,” Vicars said.

Both schools will compete next year in the Northern Buckeye Conference which will include six current SLL members as well as Fostoria and Rossford.

“We've got to slow their run-game down,” said Vicars, whose defensive focus will be on trying to contain Eastwood's leading rushers Marquise Pitts (47 carries for 468 yards, six TDs), Pernell Conner (81 carries for 388 yards, nine TDs), and Zach Conkle (33 carries for 292 yards, five TDs). “Secondly, we've got to figure a way to run against their high-pressure blitz.”

Eastwood's defense will focus on Comets running backs Kyle Nutter (63 carries for 553 yards, six TDs) and Brandon Roberts (22 carries for 216 yards, three TDs).

“It's going to come down to who can run the ball and who can stop the run,” Rutherford said.

Contact Donald Emmons at: demmons@theblade.com or 419-724-6302.

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