Badin one win away from Division III championship game

Badin head football coach Nick Yordy talks to his team after their 17-0 win over Lima Shawnee in their regional quarterfinals football playoff game Friday, Nov. 5, 2021 at Hamilton’s Virgil M. Schwarm Stadium. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
Caption
Badin head football coach Nick Yordy talks to his team after their 17-0 win over Lima Shawnee in their regional quarterfinals football playoff game Friday, Nov. 5, 2021 at Hamilton’s Virgil M. Schwarm Stadium. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Rams face Granville in state semifinals tonight in matchup of 13-0 teams

Badin High School senior defensive lineman Logan Neu was so busy trying to encourage his teammates while trailing Bellbrook in the fourth quarter of their regional final last week, he didn’t realize at first the Rams had made a change at quarterback.

Sophomore Alex Ritzie replaced injured senior Landyn Vidourek on the drive after Bellbrook took a 9-0 lead, and he led Badin to an impressive comeback for a 21-9 victory to extend the season and carry Badin into the final four for the ninth time -- its first appearance since 1998.

Just like Neu and the other seniors rallied the team together in a moment of adversity, the Rams will need a similar approach for a chance to play for the state championship. Badin (13-0) meets Granville (13-0) in the Division III state semifinals Friday at London’s Bowlus Field, and Ritzie will be back under center.

“Coach (Nick) Yordy tries to keep us having a level head, but Ritzie stepping up, that was huge,” Neu said. “I didn’t even know he was out there at first. They had just scored, we had our heads down a little and on the sideline, we just came together saying, ‘It’s just 9-0, we can do this.’ Then I realized Landyn was down and that’s why everyone was so down. We just all came together and rallied behind him and did what we needed to do to win the game. … We’ve just got to do the same thing this week.”

Ritzie came in under difficult conditions but had a strong supporting cast that still makes Badin dangerous to Granville, which also is playing a backup quarterback after losing its starter to a torn ACL in the playoff opener.

Vidourek was among the top three passers in the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed this season, throwing for 1,279 yards and 13 touchdowns while also adding 894 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns on the ground. The Rams are still hoping to use him in other ways Friday, although his hand is still too banged up to start at quarterback, but they also have talented running back Jack Walsh to rely on as a 1,500-yard rusher.

Yordy has faith in Ritzie, who completed 5 of 6 passes for 70 yards and one touchdown in his first action, and Badin is hoping the “hot hand” carries that momentum.

“Those two guys spent a lot of time together throughout season, and I think Alex looks up to Landyn quite a bit but there’s a mutual respect,” Yordy said. “Landyn had taken him under his wing throughout the season, and it obviously paid off last Friday. He’s a calm guy, which is a good quality to have for a young guy coming into a situation like that.”

Much of the Rams’ confidence stems from the way the defense has put them in positions to win games this season, including allowing just 19 points over four playoff games. That should help Ritzie feel more comfortable Friday.

Badin has allowed just 8.4 points per game with five shutouts. Only two opponents have scored more than 17 points.

“The biggest thing is we’ve always been locked in at practice and in games it just carries over,” Neu said. “It’s a credit to (defensive) coach (Joe) Schlager. He’s always had a good game plan and has us ready, and he doesn’t get enough credit. Our team chemistry has been outstanding, and we’ve always had each other’s backs through thick and thin. We’ve been through some hard games, and having your brothers next to you, that’s been huge.”

The Blue Aces will start junior Tyler Ernsberger at quarterback for a fourth straight game. Ernsberger is 23-of-33 for 300 yards and four touchdowns in the playoffs since replacing Carsyn Crouch. Unlike Ritzie, he’s had some time to settle in, but Badin will be even more locked in on Granville’s standout running back.

Facing good running backs has been a theme for the Rams throughout the playoffs. Bellbrook’s Seth Borondy managed 163 yards rushing and one touchdown; however, the Rams limited his damage in the red zone. Yordy is hoping they can do the same with Granville senior tailback Devon Haley, who has amassed 2,049 rushing yards and 31 scores.

“Their running back is pretty special,” Yordy said. “... He’s explosive, and he’s going to be someone our defense is going to have to do well to contain.”

Neu said the Rams have a “something to prove” mentality. Yordy likes that focus with four undefeated teams left in Division III and the reality only one will stay that way.

Badin wants to stay unbeaten this week.

“My biggest message throughout playoffs is enjoy it over the weekend, but Monday, it’s back to work,” Yordy said. “That’s the mentality. I told the kids we’re not worried about what’s ahead of us or what’s in the past. We have Granville, and there’s some distractions that come with Thanksgiving and no school and other things going on, but they’ve done a good job blocking those distractions out and hopefully we’re able to do that Friday night.”

Today’s Game

Who: Badin (13-0) vs. Granville (13-0)

What: Division III state semifinal

When: Today, 7 p.m.

Where: Bowlus Field, London

Tickets: To purchase tickets, log on to OHSAA.org/tickets.

TV: The game will be broadcast live on Spectrum 1 and can also be purchased for streaming at OHSAA.tv.

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