The 2012 Geneseo Green?Machine plans to use their veteran experience this season to find success and return Geneseo to the playoffs.
“We are a more veteran squad this year,” said head coach Larry Johnsen. “They have been in those fights before and those situations. We will have to see how they handle those situations.
“These guys came into practice in good shape, and you can tell they invested a lot of time, which I am really happy about.”
Like with every Green Machine team, the expectations never change and it is no different this year as the team is expected to perform at a high level.
“I expect them to perform at that high level and, if they do what they are told and to the best of their ability, the rest will take care of itself,” said Johnsen.
Seniors set to lead the Green Machine include: Travis Akers, Caleb Biellier, Grant Burress, Michael Daniels, Shane Dixon, Daulton Johnson, Nate Johnson, Jacob Miller,?Mitchell Miller, Cody Morris, Chris Olson, Cameron Panicucci, Ethan Reschke, Jon Solberg, Jacob Stimes, Greg Strawhacker, Devin?Taets, Dylan?Waggoner, Blake Whitmer and Nathan Yager.
“Like any senior group, it is their team now,” said Johnsen. “They need to play with a sense of urgency and I want them to enjoy it. They need to do the best they possibly can, and they have to take ownership in this team.”
Not only does Geneseo return a veteran group of seniors, but a handful of juniors who jumped right into things at the varsity level as sophomores last year will be back.
“A lot of guys were thrown into the fire last year,” said Johnsen. “They understand the level of play and now they have to raise the bar because they are another year older. We want them to play to the best they possibly can and let the chips fall where they may.”
The juniors who are looking to make in impact this season are: Zach Alexander, Phillip Anderson, Gage Blackert, Justin?Cain, Alex Craig, Trevor Craig, Zach Denney, Jacob Eaker, Nathan?Francque, James Hartsock, Michael?Haugse, Kaleb Haxby, Zach Mackey, Kyle Maere, AJ Marmion, Jeremy May, Jordan Mielke, Brandon Mizlo, Mike Murray, Kyle Patterson, Matthew Rowley, Scott Schulte, Rayce Singbush, Rob Smith, Luke Snyder, Joe Thomas, Austin?Turner, Nick Verbeck, Bailey Weber, Ryan Webster, Treay Whittenberg and Kevin Wolak.
“We want the juniors (who are on varsity for the first time) to pull their weight, whatever it is,” said Johnsen. “They have to learn to adjust, and we need to use what they have. You can tell they put in the work this summer.”
Joining the seniors and juniors are sophomores: Cooper Humphries and Ryan?Pitra.
“We have a whole team full of competitors,” said Johnsen. “We also have a lot who played last year coming back.”
A big strength of this year’s team will be the squad’s depth, which coach Johnsen says he has in both the backfield and up front on the line.
Just like every team out there the biggest challenge for the Green?Machine will be avoiding the injury bug.
“We do have depth, but we can’t afford a lot of injuries,” said Johnsen. “We have to stay healthy, but at the same time, the next guy in line has to be ready to jump in and be ready to go.”
The goals the coaches have set for the Green?Machine also are the same as in the past, and include playing at the highest level and getting better everyday.
“We try to be fundamentally sound and good at what we do,” said Johnsen. “They have to do what we ask them to do at a high level and for a long period of time. We also need to be consistent.”
Johnsen said the first four games of the Green Machine’s schedule will be pivotal in the team’s keys to success.
“We have a heavy schedule,” he said. “We need to practice hard, play hard and know somethings are outside of your control.”
With Snyder returning in the quarterback position and Yager, also showing his growth, coach Johnsen says he feels comfortable in that position.
As far as the outlook of the conference, coach Johnsen doesn’t believe there is a clear favorite and that it will be a dog fight for the conference title.
“Ottawa has a lot coming back and has had strong sophomore teams,” he said. “Sterling is always good and LaSalle-Peru has their quarterback coming back.”
Last season, Geneseo went 5-4 overall and 3-2 in the conference. The squad missed a playoff berth.
“Obviously, we were disappointed with the way it ended because those guys gave it everything they had,” said Johnsen. “You always take a step back to look at what needs to be done better.”
The Green Machine will hold the squad’s annual Green/White scrimmage at 5:05 p.m. tonight with freshmen, sophomore and varsity scrimmages.
The season kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 24 at home against Dunlap.
“We want to see how we compete and their maturity,” said Johnsen. “We have always tried to have guys with a strong desire to do well.”