From D3Football.com’s “Around the Region” by columnist Brian Lester, posted on October 29, 2013, and found at www.d3football.com/columns/around-the-region/greatlakes/index.
Dillon Goodell is having quite a season. He leads the PAC in tackles for the second consecutive season, racking up 75 through seven games, and while it's quite an accomplishment, the Geneva senior linebacker credits it to something simple.
"It shows that hard work pays off," said Goodell, who was an All-PAC selection a season ago. "I just try to prepare the best I can every week. I practice hard. I study film and be the best I can be on game day."
Goodell has been an integral part in the success the Golden Tornadoes have enjoyed this year. Geneva is 4-3 overall and 3-2 in the conference. The record doesn't scream for attention, although it seemed early on that Geneva would be a league title contender.
The Golden Tornadoes, who won only three games last season, started 3-0, but injuries have hurt their success as of late.
"Dillon has really stepped up and has been very good all year," coach Geno DeMarco said. "This is a kid that would probably be an All-American for sure if he was on a team that had a few more wins. He's such a great player and works so hard."
Goodell isn't the only one making an impact on defense for the Golden Tornadoes. His teammate, linebacker John Onufer, is second in the conference in tackles with 73.
"It's pretty cool to see him up there with me, but he is a humble guy and wouldn't think too much of it," Goodell said. "We are both very competitive and we push each other. It's been a big help having him as a teammate."
Goodell has come a long way since his freshman season. A year ago, he tallied 104 tackles. He said his growth as a player is partly a credit to him learning how to be prepared to succeed.
"It wasn't too tough adjusting to the physical aspect of the game or the speed of it. The big thing for me was being able to read formations and understand how to break down film the right way. I've learned to do that, and I've improved as a player."
This past summer Goodell, who hails from Florida, stayed on campus to work out with the team.
"We did a lot of work, and I think we did a good job pushing each other as a team," Goodell said. "We did a lot of 7-on-7 work and helped the younger guys get used to everything. It paid off for me to stay over the summer."
Geneva could easily be in a better situation at the moment, though. Its season began to turn in the other direction after a 41-34 overtime loss to Carnegie Mellon.
Thomas More drilled the Golden Tornadoes 61-0 the following week. Geneva did bounce back with a 40-30 win over Saint Vincent but fell 31-14 to Waynesburg this past weekend.
"We really thought we were going to make a run, but our quarterback and tailback both got hurt, and while both are still fighting through the injuries, our offense hasn't been the same. The injuries limit what we can do tremendously. But it's part of football and you have to keep fighting. That is what our team has done."
Goodell has played a role in keeping players positive despite the struggles.
"It's easy to get down when things don't go right, but I've done what I can to keep teammates upbeat," Goodell said. "You have to continue to think positive, and we've done a good job of that. Obviously, you want to win every game, but you have to forget the past and go forward and keep getting better."
Zack Hayward has thrown for 1,987 yards and 10 touchdowns and has rushed for 303 yards and two scores. Dylan Jones has churned out 422 rushing yards and four scores. Lemuel Fuller (55 catches, 646 yards, five touchdowns) and Rocky Colavecchia (40 catches, 411 yards, one touchdown) have been the top receivers.
Geneva has three games remaining and is determined to close out the season on a positive note.
"I have total confidence in this team," DeMarco said. "Our team has continued to persevere. You can't pout in football or you will get punched in the mouth. You have to keep fighting and work hard. I believe our guys will go out and do that the rest of the season."
Goodell wants to make his final games count, which would further cement his status as one of the best to play defense at Geneva.
"I only have three games left. I want to make the most of them and play my best," Goodell said. "We want to finish strong and send a message that we are a good football team. We are looking forward to ending this year the right way."
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