Geno Hess is still breaking off incredible touchdown runs for Peoria High.
But unlike last year when Hess took a backset to senior leaders as the Lions marched to a state title, this season he is the leader.
“We’re younger than last year,” said Hess. “We have young guys up front, the receivers, defense. As a whole, we have to come together and be more vocal. Keep them cool, calm and collected.”
Hess says he’s had to grow up a little bit this year. One of his biggest fans, his grandmother
Rene, died this summer. He’s dedicated the season to her.
After the Lions started the season 0-2, Hess paid a visit to her grave marker.
“After we lost to Richwoods (in week two), I told her everything is going to be alright,” said Hess. “I said watch over us. We got this.”
Hess says his grandmother came to all of his games last year until the weather turned cold.
“Her kids went to (now closed) Woodruff, her son played with Coach (Tim) Thornton,” said Hess, who started his high school career at Peoria Heights. “When I transferred to Peoria High it’s as if the same people that coached her son, coached her grandson.”
Hess writes a message to his grandma on athletic tape he uses to secure his spikes on game nights. He says, he carries her with him when he carries a ball into the end zone.
“If she’s not on my tape, she’s always on the back of my cleats,” Hess said. ‘When I’m playing, she is kinda playing with me.”