The Rams, which had a regular-season game against Fenwick cancelled due to COVID-19, face 15-0 and defending state champion Chardon today for the Division III state title at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Wright said referring to the 1990 state title, a 16-6 win over Richfield Revere. “It’s a trip that never gets old. At the beginning of the season, this is in the back of every players’ and coaches’ minds. You want to make the playoffs and win your last game.”
But of the playoff participants, only seven in the different divisions win their final game. Regardless of what happens today in the title game, Wright said “nothing can take away from this season.”
Wright, 74, has been on the sidelines for 40 seasons, including all three Badin championship games.
He’s still amazed by how sports success at the high school level filters throughout the community. Every Friday afternoon before football games, Wright and some friends eat lunch at Skyline Chili and there are guys from Hamilton High there at the same time.
The guys from Big Blue are rooting for the Rams.
“It’s good for everybody when one team from a community does well,” said Wright, whose three sons played football for Badin.
Two or three practices a week, Wright works with the long snapper, holder and kicker. He’s not sure how long he will coach but head coach Nick Yordy told him he has a lifetime contract.
Much of Badin’s success can be credited to the coaching staff and its connection to the school, Wright said. Most of the coaches played football and graduated from Badin.
“You don’t see programs thrive that are constantly changing (coaching staffs),” he said.
Wright also gives his wife of nearly 50 years, Marysue, much credit for allowing him to be away so often.
“She knows Badin is my only vice,” he said.
WHAT: Division III State Championship Game between Badin (14-0) and Chardon (15-0)
WHEN: 3 p.m. today
WHERE: Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, Canton
HOW TO WATCH: Outdoor watch party at Municipal Brew Works in Hamilton. Large screen provided by Chatterbox Sports.
BADIN ASSISTANT COACHES’ CONNECTIONS TO THE SCHOOL
Steve Malone: 1998 Badin is offensive coordinator and son of longtime head coach Terry Malone.
Doug Pate: 1982 graduate played for the 1980 state runner-up.
Joe Schlager: 1981 Badin graduate and defensive coordinator who played in the 1978 and 1980 state championship games. He was an all-state linebacker and all-time leading tackler in Badin history.
Jeff Smith: 1982 graduate played for the 1980 state runner-up.
Dean Wright: Graduated from Hamilton Catholic in 1965, is a member of the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame and coached in all three previous state championship games in 1978, 1980 and 1990.
Other assistant coaches who are Badin grads: Tony Mattia (1986), Joel Lauer (1990), Adam Schuckman (1999), Matt Shamp (2010), Jeff Smith (2011), Nick Seither (2011) and Nick Browning (2013).