Senior-dominated Badin eyes program’s second state championship

Badin's Logan Neu and Jackson Martin (44) sack Granville quarterback Carsyn Crouch in the first half of Friday night's 14-0 state semifinal win. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED
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Badin's Logan Neu and Jackson Martin (44) sack Granville quarterback Carsyn Crouch in the first half of Friday night's 14-0 state semifinal win. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

Rams will face defending champion Chardon in Friday’s Division III title game

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Badin High School football team during the regular season, but after coming out of the first big bump in the road unscathed, the Rams knew they had potential to do something special.

As No. 2 Badin (14-0) was gearing up this week to meet top-ranked defending champion Chardon (15-0) in the Division III state final Friday afternoon in Canton, coach Nick Yordy looked back at the Week 8 win against Chaminade Julienne as the springboard for the journey to the program’s first title game since 1990.

The Rams trailed 14-0 in the first quarter of that Greater Catholic League Co-Ed matchup against CJ on Oct. 8, and they rallied for a 17-point victory. The composure Yordy saw that day resurfaced in the regional final when quarterback Landyn Vidourek injured his hand and sophomore Alex Ritzie stepped in to lead the offense to a 21-point surge after trailing 9-0 in the fourth quarter against Bellbrook. And it showed up again in the state semifinals for a 14-0 win over Granville.

“That was a game where our kids kind of stayed composed, were able to come back, and we ended up winning that game kind of handily in the second half,” Yordy recalled of the Chaminade game. “But when we were down 14-0, just the way our team responded to that and the composure that they showed and their willingness to kind of stick to the plan at that point was a pretty incredible thing. I think when we got that, the kids realized, ‘Hey, we’ve got the potential here to be pretty special.’ I think that was kind of a turning point when … we really kind of started to realize we could do something here.”

Badin will need to harness that composure Friday when the team takes the field at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium seeking the program’s second state title. The Rams won the last time they made a championship appearance in 1990.

On Friday, they will have to knock off the defending champions to add title No. 2. Chardon rebuilt its lineup to make a return to the title game with just five total starters back from the 2021 championship squad. Badin has been building toward this opportunity the past few years as a team that has leaned on a senior class of 25 that owns a 31-5 record over the last three seasons.

“I was hoping sophomore or junior year this would happen,” senior defensive lineman Hunter Harrison said. “I’ve been praying every day and every night for this to happen, especially with the guys I’m with now, and we finally have our chance. It’s weird since it’s my last football game, and that part hasn’t really hit me yet, but this is what we’ve been working for.”

Yordy said “it means a lot” to get to the championship, but he will sit back and reflect on that accomplishment after it’s done.

Chardon brings a unique pistol Wing-T offense, led by quarterback Alex Henry (1,258 yards rushing, 779 yards passing, 28 touchdowns combined) and running back Sean Carr (1,132 yards, 27 touchdowns). Badin’s defense has kept the team in big games this season while the Jack Walsh-led running game has done enough offensively to put up points.

Harrison said Badin has played plenty of “diamonds” this year and “ended up putting them in the dirt,” but Chardon is the first opponent with a really standout quarterback and running back.

The Rams won’t be intimidated, though. They have six shutouts, and it all starts with Harrison and his fellow defensive linemen, seniors Logan Neu and Nick Maraschiello and junior Jackson Martin, tying up double teams and freeing up the linebackers to run wild. Chardon’s defense, Yordy said, is similar in its aggressiveness to the ball. The Hilltoppers have posted five shutouts.

“It’s definitely cause for concern because you can see how physical they are, how aggressive they are on defense, and then I don’t know that Badin gets enough credit for their offensive line because there’s so much talent on that team, and I think somewhere they get lost in the shuffle,” Chardon coach Mike Hewitt said. “And I think that’s true with us. I think a lot of people want to talk about our defense. A lot of people want to talk about Sean Carr and Alex Henry and some of these people, but our offensive line, the game Friday is gonna be won by the team who controls the line of scrimmage, who plays more violent, who takes care of the football the best because it’s two evenly-matched teams.”

Badin was still hoping Vidourek might be cleared to play Friday in some fashion but expects to start Ritzie for a second straight game. Yordy said he’s not asking Ritzie to win games, just to manage the offense, and that’s something he’s done well with Vidourek guiding him along.

The Rams’ ability to overcome the loss of a leader like Vidourek the past two weeks goes right back to the composure needed to reach this stage. They just need to show it one more time.

“It’s been a great season,” Yordy said. “To be sitting here undefeated, it’s obviously something pretty special. … We are a senior dominated team. We have 25 seniors this year, and to have that many guys stick it out for four years in our program, I think is a testament to them and for what we’re kind of building our program around right now, and we rely on them. They’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do over the past four years, and now they’ve kind of put it all together here their senior year and got us to this point. … It’s a special group, but we know we’re going to have our hands full with Chardon.”

TODAY’S GAME

Who: Badin (14-0) vs. Chardon (15-0)

What: Division III state football championship game

When: 3 p.m., Friday.

Where: Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, Canton

TV: Spectrum News 1 or ohsaa.tv.

Tickets: ohsaa.org/tickets

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