Schedule: Aug. 26 — at Taft, 7 p.m.; Sept. 3 — Talawanda (at Hamilton), 7 p.m.; Sept. 9 — at Edgewood, 7 p.m.; Sept. 16 — Purcell Marian (at Hamilton), 7 p.m.; Sept. 23 — at Roger Bacon, 7 p.m.; Sept. 30 — at Fenwick, 7 p.m.; Oct. 7 — Carroll (at Fairfield), 7 p.m.; Oct. 14 — vs. Alter at Fairmont, 7 p.m.; Oct. 22 — Chaminade Julienne (at Hamilton), 7 p.m.; Oct. 28 — McNicholas (at Hamilton), 7 p.m.
There’s no question that Badin High School’s football team lost a number of key players to graduation. But it’s time for some new faces to emerge.
That’s how veteran coach Bill Tenore sees his Rams in 2016.
“Yes, we lost a very good senior class, but players graduate,” Tenore said. “We’ve got a pretty good foundation and tradition here at Badin. This group has been around that winning, and I think it’s going to be a typical hard-nosed Badin football team.
“I like the chemistry. I think if we really jell, then we can definitely become a contender. We’ve got to maximize all the players we have and build depth.”
Badin, a playoff team in five of Tenore’s seven seasons at the helm, did lose three of the best offensive players in school history — quarterback Zach Larkin, fullback Cody Boxrucker and wideout Philip Dozier.
The Rams will stay with the pistol Wing-T offense, but it will have a different look with senior Andrew Walsh (6-0, 180) at quarterback.
“The quarterback position is one of the reasons why we decided to go to the pistol in the first place,” Tenore said. “Larkin was more of a quick passing game, dropback passer. I think Andrew’s got more potential to be a running quarterback. I think that opens up some new possibilities with our offense.”
Walsh contributed to Badin’s running corps last season, carrying the ball 24 times for 210 yards and five touchdowns. He’s the team’s top returning rusher.
Junior halfback Lavassa Martin (5-9, 180) and junior fullback Kegen Rogers (6-1, 180) are expected to be the top two running backs after combining for 171 yards last season.
“Between those two and Walsh, those are three legitimate threats out of our backfield,” said Tenore, noting that the other halfback spot is still up for grabs.
The top three wide receivers — senior Jack Chew (5-11, 170), junior Warren Clarke (6-3, 180) and sophomore Davon Hartmann-Starks (5-9, 170) — had no varsity receptions in 2015.
The tight ends are seniors Brian Gerbus (6-4, 220) and David Berg (6-2, 220). The only catch between them last year was Gerbus’ 73-yard touchdown, which concluded with a season-ending knee injury in Week 4.
The only returning starter on the O-line is senior center Bret Rolfes (5-9, 260). But Tenore likes the potential in this group, with junior Brenden Ray (6-2, 255) and sophomore Wade Bullock (5-10, 275) at tackle, and juniors Traijan Schlager (6-1, 200) and Dallas Krause (6-1, 220) at guard.
Bullock is a transfer from Lakota West.
“The one guy we can’t replace is Dominic Valentino (now a preferred walk-on at the University of Cincinnati),” Tenore said. “That being said, this can be a pretty solid group. And most of them are underclassmen.”
Returning in the 4-4 defense are Gerbus and senior John Suedkamp (6-2, 195) at end. Tenore said both are quality pass rushers.
Junior Chase Luckett (5-8, 260) and senior Deryk Bradford (5-11, 250), who has some varsity experience, are the nose guards. Senior Noah Curtner (6-1, 270) and Ray are manning the tackle positions.
“Chase hasn’t played football since he was 10,” Tenore said. “He’s pretty fast, and he’s the strongest squatter on the team. He’s got the potential to be a really nose guard.”
Schlager and Rogers are the inside linebackers. Among the outside linebackers are juniors Jalen Stockelman (5-9, 170), Joe Peters (5-11, 180) and Mitchell Ahr (6-0, 170), and senior Evan Grawe (5-10, 185).
Clarke and Hartmann-Starks figure to be the cornerbacks. Senior A.J. Ernst (5-11, 175) is leading the way at free safety.
“It’ll be a defense very much like the defense we’ve had the last seven years,” Tenore said. “I don’t really see any weaknesses other than depth at linebacker.”
Senior Matthew Schweinefuss and junior Ethan Krug, both soccer players, are competing for place-kicking duties. They’re also battling Peters for the punting job.