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“We were in unfamiliar territory starting off there,” Badin coach Nick Yordy said. “We just had to keep practicing hard and not worry so much about what happened but just keep looking at ourselves. We dropped two games we felt we had opportunities to win and just couldn’t get over the hump, so credit to my coaching staff, we sat down and decided to go a little different direction. We wanted more success on offense so we had to change things up.”
The Rams opened with an overtime loss against Ross, then fell short 24-17 against Talawanda in Week 2. Against the Braves, Badin quarterback Zach Switzer threw for 209 yards on 16 of 31 passing, but after the Rams fell behind, the game dictated more of an aerial attack. Badin rushed 26 times for 99 yards that game.
The next week, Badin spread the offense more and ended up finding a rhythm in the running game with Alex DeLong rushing 26 times for 233 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-0 win over Edgewood. Switzer didn’t need to throw more than the 8-for-9 passing effort that accounted for 123 yards.
Switzer had another 200-yard passing performance in Week 4, as Badin beat Roger Bacon 31-7.
“We were pretty predictable in what we were trying to do early on,” Yordy said. “We allowed teams to load the box and get some shots on us, and based on our personnel with all 11 guys on offense, spreading the formations out and getting guys into space has helped us and helped them make more plays.”
Players bought in to the changes, Yordy said, but it also helped that the Rams were successful with them.
“I guess you could say it was kind of a risky decision because if you don’t have success, you’re right back to where you started, but making the switch and having success and maintaining that has helped and the kids have bought in,” he said. “We had that aspect of the offense before (passing), but were’ just spreading out more than packing everyone in, and it’s working.”
With the offense rolling and scoring 27 points or more in each of the last three games, the defense has benefited as well. Yordy said guys are fresher on that side of the ball, and the Rams also were able to cut down on the number of players going both ways so the team wasn’t so worn down by the fourth quarter.
“It’s paid dividends everywhere,” Yordy said.
Yordy hopes the dividends keep coming.
With the GCLC playing as one division this year, the opening test is an especially big one. Badin won the Central division last year, while Alter claimed its third straight North title and fifth in the last six years.
“Right now starting off GCL play against a team that’s won the league for so many years in a row, it’s a test and it’s going to be important to get off to a good start to build some confidence in what they are prepared to do,” Yordy said. “If we do what we’re supposed to do, hopefully we will have a chance to be there in the fourth quarter.”
Yordy said the Rams aren’t thinking ahead to what a win Friday could mean for their league title hopes. The focus for now just remains on getting ready for a good Alter team. The Knights’ lone loss was a 35-31 game at Columbus DeSales. Alter has beaten Badin 22 straight times, dating back to 1999.
Alter brings a potent ground attack led by running back Branden McDonald, who has 53 carries for 268 yards and four touchdowns, and quarterback Kale Steneman, who adds 49 carries for 284 yards and four touchdowns. Steneman has completed 26 of 49 passes for 371 yards and another four scores.
“They are pretty good,” Yordy said. “They lost a lot of seniors, but year after year they just kind of reload. They have a really athletic quarterback that can run, a good running back that played a lot last year and good guys on defense. They are a fundamentally sound, well-coached team, year after year. We have to execute in all phases and be ready to play some good football.”
Princeton at Middletown
Hamilton at Mason
Alter at Badin
McNicholas at Fenwick
Ross at Edgewood
Talawanda at Harrison
Lakota East at Fairfield
Lakota West at Oak Hills
Cin. College Prep at New Miami
Franklin at Preble Shawnee
Monroe at Eaton
Carlisle at Northridge
Lebanon at Trotwood-Madison
Springboro at Northmont
(All games at 7 p.m.)