Wadsworth QB captures Ohio Mr. Football Award
By Eric Frantz
That was the response many uttered this fall when watching Wadsworth quarterback Joey Baughman play.
It was also the retort the senior gave Wednesday when informed he was Ohio’s 31st Mr. Football Award winner.
Previously bestowed by the Associated Press, the Ohio Mr. Football Award is being presented by the Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association this season. Each of Ohio’s districts nominated players for the honor, which was decided by a statewide vote.
An unlikely candidate as the state’s top individual in August, Baughman blossomed into a favorite by leading Wadsworth to its first undefeated season since 1996 and just its fourth overall. The Grizzlies also went unblemished in 1966 and 1967.
Wadsworth won the Suburban League, hosted (and won) a first-round playoff game and averaged 50.8 points per game during the regular season.
“In the preseason our goals were to win the Suburban League, go undefeated and host a first round playoff game,” Baughman said. “There was talk of going 15-0 or what not, but those were our big three goals.”
Baughman was a big reason the Grizzlies achieved each. He ended the season with 3,079 yards passing and 1,523 yards rushing, throwing for 36 touchdowns and running for 20. He earned the nickname “Joey Football” by September.
“I didn’t think about Mr. Football until the playoffs started,” Baughman said. “That’s when [head] coach [Justin] Todd showed me my numbers and mentioned it. After that first playoff game I knew it was a possibility.”
In that contest, a 61-42 Division II regional quarterfinal win over Sylvania Northview, Baughman threw for 229 yards and five touchdowns, carried the ball 14 times for 191 yards and a touchdown and completed a 2-point conversion pass.
He had comparable performances during the regular season, throwing for a Medina County-record 416 yards in a win over North Royalton. Baughman’s most impressive senior stat? Three interceptions in 331 attempts.
Baughman, who started playing football at 6, was a running back until middle school. That’s when Sophia Fortner stopped playing. A senior point guard on the Grizzlies girls basketball team and a University of Toledo recruit, Fortner was the Wadsworth senior class’s quarterback through seventh-grade. Baughman took snaps starting in eighth.
Fortner helped Wadsworth win the 2016 D-I basketball state title. Baughman hopes to win a state title himself this winter.
A University of Virginia wrestling recruit, Baughman is a two-time D-I state runner-up. He finished second at 170 pounds as a junior and second at 160 as a sophomore. He was fifth at 145 as a freshman.
“I certainly have some unfinished business,” Baughman said. “I’m looking for that state title.”
Baughman, who enters his final season 112-17, picked the Cavaliers over Ohio State, North Carolina, Oregon State and Appalachian State.
This year’s Mr. Football Award field was diverse and well respected. Five different players earned a first place vote. Trotwood-Madison senior running back Ra’Vion Hargrove finished second.
The other finalists were senior running back Daniel Bangura (Canal Winchester Harvest Prep), senior quarterback Lukas Isaly (Hannibal River), junior receiver Tanner Holden (Wheelersburg), senior quarterback Ja’Vez Alexander (Sandusky), senior defensive end Tyreke Smith (Cleveland Heights), senior running back Isaiah Bowser (Sidney) and senior quarterback Jimmy Weirick (Pickerington North).