Fortunately for the offense, new quarterback Alex Ritzie got a good sampling of experience in the playoffs last year when he had to step in for Vidourek after he was injured in the regional final. Ritzie entered that game after Bellbrook scored to take a 9-0 lead, and he ended up leading Badin to an impressive 21-9 comeback win for the program’s first Final Four appearance since 1998.
Ritzie started the state semifinal, a 14-0 win over Granville, and championship games. Badin lost to Chardon, 21-14, in the final.
“Alex had big games under his belt, so we are relying on the experience he gained,” Yordy said. “That really helped him out, being thrown in that environment, and that pressure helped him run with it. He’s really composed, relaxed. Doesn’t get too flustered if he makes a mistake, and I think that experience last year helped him as a quarterback at Badin High School.”
Ritzie, a junior, has 530 yards passing and six touchdowns over the last three games.
Yordy also knew he would have to find a way to replace more than 1,900 yards of production on the ground from Walsh, but Carter Russo is filling that void after rushing for 440 yards and six touchdowns on 72 carries last year. Russo rushed for 147 yards and one touchdown in a 24-17 win over Withrow in Week 3 and had 99 yards in a 27-14 win over St. Francis DeSales.
“Carter got carries but having guys like Jack Walsh in front of him, he was just waiting his turn to get out and show what he can do,” Yordy said. “He’s very similar to Jack, not a big guy, short, low center of gravity, shiftiness to him and just like Jack has a little power, runs hard. It may not look like it but has a lot of the qualities you want in a running back.”
It helps the defense has been allowing just 8.5 points per game, including two games with three points or less.
The Rams are led on that side of the ball by players like senior captains Jackson Martin and Kaden Starks, senior safety Braedyn Moore, a University of Cincinnati recruit, junior middle linebacker Nate Ostendorf and junior outside linebacker Drew Enginger.
“We knew we had the potential to be talented, but didn’t really talk about it,” Yordy said. “Guys are hungry, want to be part of the program, and that’s exciting to see. They come in and work hard. Everyone has goals, but there’s still a lot to accomplish in Week 5, so we have that mentality of being humble and focused and we’re taking it one week at a time.”
Yordy said the team hasn’t discussed its state ranking or trying to repeat last year’s run. Players have brought the right attitude and work ethic and embraced what the program has been about the past five years, and Yordy believes “it’s all just falling into place.”
Ross will be another good test, coming off a dismantling of Dayton Dunbar last week to move to 2-2.
“Their triple option is tough to simulate, especially the way they run it,” said Yordy, who grew up and lives in Ross. “Their coaches do a good job, defensively they are always solid. Their kids will play hard. They threw some wrinkles at us last year, and we have to be ready. We are expecting a good disciplined team, have to go out and execute and match that intensity.”