Badin High School’s football season will end this weekend, but it might end with a Greater Catholic League Coed Central Division championship.
The Rams will travel to McNicholas on Saturday afternoon for a winner-take-all Central title game, making last season’s 2-8 record seem like a long time ago.
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“For what we’re trying to do here and getting back to what Badin has been and always will be to me, we’re moving in the right direction,” first-year coach Nick Yordy said. “The kids are still locked in. To be playing meaningful games at the end of the season is a pretty good feeling.”
Badin has been eliminated from the Division III, Region 12 playoff race, while McNick is a long shot in the region and might be eliminated before Saturday’s game.
Both teams are 5-4 overall and 3-3 in the GCLC Central.
“I don’t know exactly what we need to get in,” Rockets coach Mike Orlando said. “But as I told the kids, the only guarantee we have is that if we lose Saturday, we’re not going to the playoffs. So we’re going to try to do our part and prepare accordingly, not to mention a GCL title is on the line too, and that’s important to us.
“So our focus is Badin. They deserve it, and they’ll get our full attention. We want to stand our ground in the GCL Central.”
McNick has owned the Rams in recent years. The Rockets have won the last five meetings and the last five Central titles (they were co-champions in 2015), though Hamilton Catholic/Badin leads the series 34-16-1.
The Rams enter Saturday’s game on a two-game losing streak against GCLC North teams. McNick has taken three straight defeats from North opponents.
“That’s just how it’s gone,” Orlando said. “Honestly, I think us, Badin, Fenwick and CJ are probably four teams that are pretty similar in terms of talent and what they’ve got going on.”
The Rockets are coming off a 28-14 road loss to Alter. Orlando described his team’s effort level as “fantastic.”
Senior quarterback Cole Burdick makes the McNick offense go.
He’s 108 of 193 for 1,345 yards and 11 touchdowns with seven interceptions for a unit that’s had a couple significant injuries. Burdick is also the team’s top runner (127 carries, 496 yards, four TDs).
On the other side of the ball, Orlando likes his defensive front — ends Jackson Gear and Chris Wittwer, along with tackles Brandon Bagley and Michael Schaeper — and knows it will be challenged by Badin’s running game. Gear and Wittwer lead the GCLC with 15 and 7.5 sacks, respectively.
The Rams lost one of their top runners, junior Davon Starks, to a broken collarbone in Week 8. Junior Luke Tabler stepped up and ran 13 times for 78 yards and a TD in last week’s 24-22 loss to Chaminade Julienne.
Senior Lavassa Martin is on the verge of making more Badin history. With 1,267 yards (on 136 carries) this year, he’s looking to pass Tony Farquis (1,364 yards in 1980) and become the program’s single-season rushing leader.
“It is a big deal for the amount of really good running backs that have come through this school,” Yordy said. “It’s pretty special for Lavassa and also the guys up front that are blocking for him.”
That O-line includes tackles Dallas Krause and Brenden Ray, guards Andrew Jones and Kyle Rosteutscher, center Dylan Schmitt and tight end Grayson Taylor.
“It’s definitely a group effort,” said Rosteutscher, a 5-foot-11, 220-pound senior. “We’ve got to communicate and really trust each other. We’re just trying to keep going until the whistle blows, just trying to get that record.”
The key to being a good offensive lineman? “Just don’t stop,” he said. “Just keep being nasty.”
Saturday will be Senior Day for the Rockets. It will also mark the end of the prep road for 11 Badin seniors.
Rosteutscher admitted he didn’t know what to expect coming into his senior campaign.
“I was just coming in with an open mind,” Rosteutscher said. “We haven’t let losses get to us too bad. They’ve stung, but it’s just next week. That’s all we worry about.
“I’m glad to have this team and this new coaching staff. It was a really memorable year. Even if we lose, I love this team.”
Yordy was hoping for more wins, but he’s never been disappointed by his team’s effort.
“They’ve played their hearts out this whole year,” Yordy said. “We’ve been in a lot of games. In these GCL games, it just comes down to one or two plays that can really be decisive in the outcome. We’ll get to a point where we’ll make those plays.”
What: Badin (5-4, 3-3 GCLC Central) at McNicholas (5-4, 3-3 GCLC Central), 1 p.m.
Where: Penn Station Stadium, 6536 Beechmont Ave., Cincinnati
Last year: McNicholas won 52-0