by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Less than two years ago, Mitch Guadagni was a backup.
Now he's one of the best quarterbacks in the state.
It has been quite a ride for the standout junior signal caller, who has guided the Hudson football team to the Division I state playoffs the last two years.
And all of this seemed to happen in the blink of an eye.
"It feels like the last two years have gone by really fast," Guadagni said.
"I never imagined I'd be in this position today. I'm glad it happened."
He's certainly pleased with his future plans after high school.
Guadagni, a three-star prospect by Scout.com and a two-star prospect by Rivals.com, recently made a verbal commitment to continue his academic and football careers at the University of Toledo. His decision is expected to become official when he signs his national letter of intent in February.
Guadagni, who said he plans to study business, also considered Buffalo (N.Y.), Western Michigan, James Madison (Va.), Akron and Kent State.
"I visited Toledo four times and got close to the coaches," Guadagni said. "I also got to hang out with the players. The campus is really nice and I got a good feel of the city. In the end, it was the best fit for me."
Guadagni threw for 2,029 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2013. The Explorers finished 10-2 after losing a 28-17 decision to Cleveland St. Ignatius in the second round of the Division I, Region I playoffs.
Such gaudy statistics may have seemed far-fetched the previous year.
Guadagni was sitting behind starting quarterback Ben Hart going into the 2012 season. But Hart suffered a wrist injury during the Explorers' season-opening 17-14 victory over Chagrin Falls Kenston.
As a result, Guadagni saw his first action under center and has stayed there ever since.
Fortunately for both players, along with the team, everyone got the best of both worlds.
Hart became a bruising fullback and punishing linebacker while Guadagni flourished as the signal caller. Hart signed with Davidson College (N.C.) after leading the team with more than 100 tackles in 2013.
"Obviously, with Ben going down, I had to mature really quickly," Guadagni said. "Ben was a great leader."
As it turns out, so is Guadagni.
The former backup quickly became a star and ended up passing for a 2,052 yards and 26 touchdowns. Both of those totals are school records and more importantly, Hudson reached the second round of the Division I playoffs and finished 10-2.
"[Quarterbacks coach] Brad Maendler was with him the whole way through," Wright said. "Right away, he told me, 'Mitch is really coming around.' He never looked back after that."
Toledo finished 7-5 in 2013 and is led by head coach Matt Campbell. Guadagni is the fifth member of the Rockets 2015 recruiting class and the first quarterback. Toledo has three quarterbacks listed on its roster.
Now that Guadagni knows what his future holds, he can simply enjoy his senior year at Hudson.
"For me personally, I thought it was time," Guadagni said. "It was pretty stressful talking to all these coaches. I'm happy with where I'm going to be for the next four years. It's a big relief and now I can focus on high school football and winning a state championship."