It’s about time Vince Genatone gets some shine.
Since moving to North Platte last June, the dynamic junior has been quietly introducing himself to the prep sports scene in Nebraska. He led North Platte’s football team with 100-plus tackles last fall. Then he won the Class A 195-pound state wrestling championship in February, easily beating Omaha Westside’s Cole Haberman 10-4. Now he’s opening eyes this spring, running the 100-meter dash in 10.87 seconds and the 200 in 22.3 — both of which are among the fastest in the state.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Genatone is working with good genetics. His dad and current defensive coordinator, Al, played linebacker at Washington State, where he later coached.
“He’s made a huge impact with me,” Vince said of his dad. “He’s the one who’s been coaching me since I can remember. He’s the one who got me into weight lifting and just working out when I was in middle school. He keeps me working hard and focused.”
Born in Pullman, Wash., Genatone has moved quite a bit since Al joined the military after his playing days. He’s lived in Idaho, Georgia and Louisiana before calling Casper, Wyoming home for about seven years.
Once Genatone got to town last summer, it became obvious to North Platte football head coach Todd Rice that Genatone would help his team.
“You could just tell his work ethic and athleticism were tremendous,” Rice said.
As North Platte went through a limited preseason due to Covid, Rice and his coaching staff tried to find a position for Genatone in their flexbone offense, which was much different than what he played in at Wyoming. He wound up at three different positions on that side of the ball, but eventually settled in at slotback where he rushed for 323 yards and five touchdowns while averaging 6.1 yards per carry.
“He was just tremendous on, ‘Hey, put me wherever you want, I’ll do whatever you need,’” Rice said.
Initially Genatone started at free safety on defense, but was moved to middle linebacker after three games. Genatone shined at the position in North Platte’s 4-2-5 scheme, where he was responsible for making strength and formation calls.
“He really excelled once he was moved into that position,” Rice said.
Genatone led the defense with 102 tackles and racked up 20 against Lincoln East and 18 against Creighton Prep. Above all else, speed was his biggest asset. Genatone — and explosive player who runs a 4.13 shuttle, has a 37.8 vertical and can hang clean 300 pounds — plays sideline-to-sideline and beats blockers, sometimes before they can even get hands on him.
“He closes space very quickly. Whether it’s filling gaps inside or running down some really good skill kids, he’s just got a great combination. He has a great football IQ,” Rice said.
Said Genatone of the position move: “There was an adjustment at first but after that first and second game, it clicked. I started getting a feel for playing that position. But I have great teammates too, my D-line made it easy on me.”
Genatone owns one scholarship offer to play football, from Northern Arizona. He’s been hearing from bigger schools, too, like Washington State, Boise State and Nebraska.
“My dream has always been to play college football. So that’s been the goal,” Genatone said. “I think all three of those schools have been in my ear pretty evenly, they’re all pretty active. From Washington State, I’ve been talking to Coach (Jesse) Bobbit, from Boise it’s been Coach (Stacy) Collins and from Nebraska it’s been Coach (Kenny) Wilhite.”
Genatone says offseason work with his team at North Platte is his top priority this summer. When he can, he’ll look to compete in showcases and individual camps in an effort to get more exposure. He hasn’t yet finalized any of the camps or colleges he wants to visit this summer.
He’s also focused on track. It’s competition, and he loves it. That’s why he’s a three-sport athlete.
“The best thing for athletes is competition, so I just want to compete, be active and work for some goal,” Genatone said. “It’s one of the best things for you.”
Genatone has already done a lot to impress Rice. The sub-11 100 might take the cake, though. It’s a testament to what he can do athletically.
“I think this is what a lot of people don’t realize — three or four weeks after he won the state title in wrestling he stepped on the track and was running 10.8 100 electronic times,” Rice said. “I don’t know, but to me he may be the best athlete in the state. I don’t know how many guys can do the things that he does.”