GREENVILLE – In the many years of watching and broadcasting football games from venerable Harmon Field in the Greenville City Park, I’ve never witnessed an environment like was evident Friday night in an OHSAA Division III Football Regional Semi-Final contest. Two highly skilled squads from Hamilton Badin and Wapakoneta battled for the right to advance to the Elite Eight the following week and provided one of the best, if not the best, contests ever held on the turf of the almost 90-year-old facility.
Congratulations to Greenville High School Athletic Director Aaron Shafer and his staff along
with the Greenville football coaching staff and the many others who volunteered their time to make the event truly remarkable for student-athletes, fans, and casual attendees.
With the lights of not only Harmon Field but also the athletic field in front of the high school
building as well as the Jennings Family Track Complex in full display, it almost was reminiscent of Monday Night Football telecasts with the lights of downtown buildings in NFL cities in the background—the only thing missing was an appearance by the Goodyear Blimp!!
Both Badin and Wapakoneta brought huge crowds and in my estimation, without knowing
official numbers, probably established an all-time attendance record for a football game held on the premises. Concession stand sales had to be off of the charts!
As for the game itself, state second-ranked Badin pulled out a thrilling last minute
comeback win over the team from Auglaize County by a 14-10 count. Both teams established early the reason they had made it through the first two rounds of the playoffs and the right to play each other for the second consecutive year as Badin had defeated the Redskins in last year’s regional semifinals.
Both teams were athletic, well-coached, and motivated by the past traditions and
successes of their respective programs as well as the rabid followings of their fans.
Wapakoneta struck first on a 2-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter by Reece
Schnarre and with the point-after by Kyle Beach took a 7-0 lead to the locker room at halftime.
Late in the third quarter a Beach field goal of 49-yards upped the Redskins’ lead to 10-0, all
of the Wapakoneta points coming after an injury to quarterback Caleb Moyer who suffered a broken collarbone midway through the the second quarter. With lead running back Jace Knous also out with a knee injury sustained in the third quarter the ‘Skins struggled offensively in the second half.
One of the key plays in the game occurred when the Rams recovered a Wapakoneta fumble
at the Redskins’ 10-yard line leading to a Alex Ritzie to Austin Buckle touchdown pass with
3:28 left in the game, cutting the Rams’ deficit to 10-7.
After Wapakoneta was forced to punt, Badin took over at their own 35-yard line with 1:29
remaining and quickly moved down the field, setting up a game-winning pass from the 5-yard line from Ritzie to Carson Cheek with 2 seconds showing on the clock, leading to
pandemonium in the Badin stands and stunned silence among the Redskins faithful.
It was a great night for high school football and once again proved the power of sports in
bringing together communities in a celebration of common purpose and enthusiasm. It
reinforced the old ABC-TV Wide World of Sports slogan, “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat”!
Wapakoneta finishes the season with a 10-3 mark and five consecutive either outright or
shared Western Buckeye League titles. Badin remains undefeated at 13-0 and advances to the regional finals this coming Friday at 7:00 to take on the 11-2 Celina Bulldogs, victors over MVL co-champs Tippecanoe in the other semifinal matchup, in a game to be played at Trotwood-Madison High School.