Prep football: Badin, Bacon seek spark after two-game losing streaks

Fenwick’s Jack Fessler is chased by Badin’s Bobby Young (2), Ethan Wishart (41) and Evan Schlensker (54) during last Friday’s game at Krusling Field in Middletown Fenwick won 21-9. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ANGIE MOHRHAUS

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Fenwick’s Jack Fessler is chased by Badin’s Bobby Young (2), Ethan Wishart (41) and Evan Schlensker (54) during last Friday’s game at Krusling Field in Middletown Fenwick won 21-9. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ANGIE MOHRHAUS

Badin High School’s football team still has a lot to play for this season, but the sense of urgency is growing.

The Rams are 2-2 and on a two-game losing streak heading into Friday night’s game at Roger Bacon, where the Spartans also have a 2-2 record and have lost two straight.

“I think it’s motivation because we’re trying to make the (Division III) playoffs, and just coming off two losses, our backs are kind of against the wall,” said junior linebacker Evan Schlensker, who leads Badin with 38 total tackles. “We just know we’ve got to win these next games.”

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The Greater Catholic League Coed Central Division is a wide-open race. In fact, everybody is tied for first place. Badin, Bacon, Purcell Marian and McNicholas got swept by North Division opponents in the first week of league play.

It’s also the last year of the Central Division. Badin will be part of the six-team GCLC next season, while the Spartans head off to the Miami Valley Conference for football.

“Going into the Alter game last week, we made a big deal out of it, talking about how this is our last run at the GCL,” Bacon coach Mike Blaut said. “It’s not as big a deal against Badin because we’re going to continue playing them anyway. They just won’t be league games anymore.”

The Rams have dominated this series of late, winning 11 of the last 12 meetings. Bacon has only been within 7 points once in those 11 defeats.

But Blaut said his program is on the rise. That positive mind-set starts with sophomore tailback Corey Kiner, the GCLC’s leading rusher. He’s got 718 yards and 12 touchdowns on 75 carries.

“The Kiner kid is legit,” Badin coach Nick Yordy said. “He’s got speed, and if he gets his shoulders squared, he’s hard to tackle. You don’t see one guy tackling him on film.

“Coach Blaut definitely has those guys believing in what they’re doing over there. You can see the improvement they’ve made, and it’s not just one or two guys. I think they’ve gotten a lot stronger in the offseason.”

Junior quarterback Tyler Bullock has completed 23-of-55 passes for 419 yards and four touchdowns. He’s got some big-play receivers in seniors Luke Byrd (four catches, 175 yards, TD) and Zach Kuhlman (five catches, 141 yards, TD), who’s got an offer from the U.S. Naval Academy.

“We’ve got some weapons this year,” Blaut said. “They were all on the team last year, but they were all young and inexperienced.”

Senior inside linebacker Nate Stark and senior outside linebacker Stan Hart are key figures in Bacon’s 3-4 defense.

“We’ve finally got some size and beef up front that we’ve lacked in the past, and they’re doing a good job shutting down the run,” Blaut said.

The Spartans did give up nearly 600 rushing yards in last week’s 49-14 loss to Alter, though Blaut said a lot of that came later in the game. Bacon and Badin share a common problem — both teams have a number of guys going both ways.

“Alter eventually wore us down, but it was a game in the first half, and we haven’t given Alter a game like that in a long time,” Blaut said. “We didn’t match up very well with Badin my first couple years as head coach. This year we do, but this is always a tough game. Coach Yordy has done a really good job of putting that team together. He was a tough player when he played, and that team is a reflection of him.”

Yordy felt the Rams took a positive step performance-wise in a 21-9 defeat at Fenwick last week, but squandered some opportunities at key points in the game.

Senior center/nose guard Dylan Schmitt is returning to action against Bacon after missing the Fenwick game with a concussion.

“We’re trying to get a little bit more of a rotation to keep guys fresher,” Yordy said. “You can tell guys are getting worn down a little bit, but there’s always been a lot of guys at Badin going both ways. It’s kind of the nature of the beast at this point. We’re hoping with some of our younger classes that we can improve on that a little bit.”

The 6-foot, 175-pound Schlensker is one of those two-way guys — he’s also starting at offensive guard. His goal was to be the Rams’ leading tackler on defense, though he didn’t necessarily expect that to happen.

“With the D-line keeping the blockers off me, I just do my job and make plays,” Schlensker said.

Friday’s game

What: Badin (2-2, 0-1 GCLC Central) at Roger Bacon (2-2, 0-1 GCLC Central), 7 p.m.

Where: Bron Bacevich Memorial Stadium, 35 E. Mitchell Ave., St. Bernard

Series: Hamilton Catholic/Badin leads 29-27-2 and has won the last seven meetings, including 41-21 in 2017

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