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Baugher continuing run game at Chalker

August 21, 2013
By MATT WAGNER - Tribune Chronicle ( , Underthelights

During coach Ryan Slone's brief reign at Chalker, the fullback position has become one of utmost importance.

A former offensive lineman at Defiance College, Slone's teams love to run the ball, and during his first two seasons at the helm for the Wildcats, the fullback has been one of the best players on the team.

"(Playing fullback) means you're a tough, hard-nosed kid," Slone said. "I think it's a tremendous thing to have a true fullback on your team, and I love the I-formation, having a lead blocker. It's just old-school football."

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Brendan Baugher

It started with Connor Oakford, who rushed for 830 yards in 2011, and for last year and this year, Brendan Baugher has continued the trend at fullback.

The 5-foot-10 senior, who rushed for 511 yards on 103 attempts in 2012, said he learned the ins-and-outs of how to play fullback from his predecessor.

"I was always one of the ones who wanted to hit the older guys, and that's how I ended up with Connor," Baugher said. "He pretty much taught me everything I know about being a fullback - just hit them hard.

"That's been our philosophy here, when we have a running game like we do, you have to have a good fullback."

Not only does Baugher have the physical style of play that the Wildcats need at fullback, but the senior also has a knowledge of the game.

With him entering the third year in Slone's system, he understands the offense. It should be easy for Baugher, considering he scored a 32 on his ACT before the end of the 2012 season.

"He's a smart football player," Slone said. "He's been in the system now for his third season, and he understands the system. He's got a grasp of the offense now where he sees things without us even telling him."

At Chalker, it's expected for players to play both sides of the ball, and Baugher is no exception to the rule.

The senior also plays middle linebacker for the Wildcats, and he is the centerpiece of the unit. He recorded 94 total tackles, 10 for losses, and forced and recovered two fumbles.

"He's our middle backer for a reason," Slone said. "He's the catalyst of our defense, and he knows where he is supposed to go."

Baugher is such an important individual for the team that Slone said he will be on the field every play, including on special teams.

Slone hinted the offense will sometimes come out in the spread because of the athletes Chalker has, but the coaching staff has already found a way to keep its senior leader out there - by deploying Baugher at tackle.

"He's not going to get to come off the field," Slone said. "He's that good of a player and that important of a player for us where no matter what position he plays, we really can't have him off the field. He needs to be a great football player for us to be successful."

Under Slone's two years, the Wildcats have improved from a winless season in 2010 to a 4-6 record in 2012.

Like his teammates, Baugher wants to continue that trend and perhaps make the playoffs for the first time since 2001 - the only playoff appearance in program history.

"We're not looking to be just mediocre this year," Baugher said.