by Rob Barrone | Correspondent
With the high school football season over, it's time to officially close the books on the 2012 campaign.
The Hudson football team celebrated its 9-3 season with its annual team banquet and awards Dec. 3.
The record speaks volumes for the Explorers. During, the past 2-1/2 seasons the Explorers compiled 21-4 regular-season mark, including their third consecutive Northeast Ohio Conference River Division title.
Add to those impressive numbers are the school's first back-to-back trips to the second round of the playoffs.
Hudson saw its season end in the Division I, Region 2 semifinals for the second consecutive year after losing a 39-28 decision to eventual state runner-up Toledo Whitmer.
While Ben Gedeon may have been face of the franchise of Hudson football the past three seasons, he needed help. Heading into the 2012 season, the Explorers had, along with Gedeon, returning talent at wideout and in the defensive secondary, but questions arose when it came to the offensive line.
"Starting the year, I was slightly optimistic," second-year head coach Ron Wright said. "We had Gedeon back, but we didn't know who was going to block for him and what we were going to do."
The questions were answered by a host of newcomers up front.
"We only had Jason Idoine back on the offensive line and look at what they accomplished [an average of 346 yards per game in total offense over 12 weeks]," Wright said. "Donny Sheatzle moves down to a guard position. Danny Tiley came from CVCA [Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy], Jack Milgrim and Ben Adams had not played before and Alex Mushock had length but not a lot of girth. They held the point and did an outstanding job."
The line may have been the difference as Hudson had both a 1,000-yard rusher in Gedeon and a 2,000-yard passer in sophomore Mitch Guadagni.
At season's end, nine Explorers earned postseason first-team All-NOC River honors.
Gedeon (co-defensive player of the year), Idoine, Guadagni, Pierce Royster, Tim Kennedy, John Zuccaro, Adam Coberly, Ross McLelland and Zack Brandy picked up that hardware.
Honorable mention went to Leighton Antonio (38 receptions for 581 yards and five touchdowns), Milgrim, Zack Vehar (62 tackles, including 12 tackles for a loss), Tiley (66 tackles and nine sacks), Colin Hogan (four TD catches), Mushock (41 tackles), Sheatzle (55 tackles), Jason Hatfield (54 tackles) and Alex Agra (two picks).
Gedeon ended the season with 1,091 yards rushing on 181 carries and had 126 tackles and five fumble recoveries on defense. He was named first-team All-Northeast Ohio Inland District and first team All-Ohio for the second year in a row.
Gedeon finished his career with three straight 100-tackle seasons and 374 total tackles in four seasons. He ended with 3,052 yards rushing and 4,290 total yards from scrimmage and 278 points with 46 touchdowns. He picked up the Explorers' Captain's Award, co-Defensive Player of the Year along with Coberly and the Ray Hyser Award.
"Ben has fulfilled his destiny," Wright said. "He was everything that we thought he could be and more. He did it all. He could have played any position."
Coberly led Hudson in tackles with 130 from his defensive-end spot. He was All-District and named third-team All-Ohio for the second year in a row. In addition to his Captain's Award, and co-defensive Player of the Year at Hudson, he won the Most Hits Award.
"He led the team in tackles from one position which is hard to fathom," Wright said. "He always played the field end. He was relentless this year. He is a very bright guy and was a great captain for us."
Idoine shared the Captain's Award and anchored the offensive line this season. He had 26 tackles on defense and earned All-District and second-team All-Ohio honors. Idoine won the Explorers' Sledge Hammer Award and received an award for the highest grade point average.
"Jason solidified our line," Wright said. "He was the only returning starter and did an outstanding job at left tackle."
Royster, a second-year kicker made great strides this year as a junior. His kickoffs often found the end zone and he added 10 field goals and made 46-of-48 extra points. He scored 78 total points and was a first-team All-District and first-team All-Ohio pick along with the Hudson Special Teams Player of the Year.
"Pierce had a great year," Wright said. "He is one of the top kickers in the state of Ohio this year. I am looking forward to him being bigger and stronger next year. I have nothing but confidence in from 50 yards on in."
McLelland, a linebacker, had 67 tackles and two picks this year.
"Ross is a very smart player," Wright said. "He knew how to bait the quarterback into throwing the ball. He had a huge interception [for a score] against Brecksville."
Brandy, a defensive back/receiver picked up the Captain's Award and Lavelli Award and ended with 59 tackles and 20 catches for 244 yards.
"Zack Brandy is as tough as nails," Wright said. "He put himself in position with his work in the weight room. He had a great year."
Kennedy had four TDs in the first half twice this season. He scored a team-high 90 points with 15 TDs. He had 50 catches for 764 yards and 13 scores. On defense, he picked off three passes (two for scores) and had 54 tackles. He was Hudson's Offensive Player of the Year Award and a second-team All-District choice as a receiver.
"He was prime-time," Wright said. "He plays with a chip on his shoulder and competes on every snap."
Zuccaro, a junior defensive back, led Hudson with eight interceptions. He was third on the team with 95 tackles and was a second-team All-District choice.
"Offensively, Johnny was good, but defensively, he was very good," Wright said. "He had great vision at reading the quarterback's eyes. He is very active in the secondary and smart too."
Guadagni received honorable mention to the All-District team. He finished with 2,052 yards passing and 26 TDs. He also rushed for 391 yards.
"Mitch seized the moment," Wright said. "He got the opportunity to showcase his abilities and never looked back. He had a season way beyond what we envisioned and we thought he could be pretty good."
Senior Brian May earned the True Grit Award and sophomores Braden Doerr and Dean Miller each were named the Hudson Scout Team Player of the Year. In all, 21 seniors received letters this year.
Thanks to their three-peat, the Explorers will move up to the Valley Division next season as Medina moves down. Mentor, Strongsville, Brunswick, Twinsburg and Solon await next fall.