SIDNEY — Sidney’s football program has alumni playing at Division I and III universities and will soon have a pair of graduates — and cousins — playing at Division II schools.
Sidney seniors Ratez Roberts and Josiah Hudgins signed to play for Urbana and Tiffin, respectively, at a ceremony at Sidney High School’s library on Thursday. Hudgins was a key player in the defensive backfield the last four years and Roberts was one of Sidney’s leading receivers the last two years.
“These two guys have met the criteria you need to play (college football),” Sidney coach Adam Doenges told an assembled crowd of about 60 people. “They’ve kept their grades high enough, they’re pretty darn good football players and they genuinely love the game and want to make the commitment to play it the next four years.”
Roberts said both he and Josiah’s maternal grandfathers are related.
“This is a dream come true, something you look forward to for forever,” Roberts said. “Picking a college where you want to go the next four years isn’t easy, so doing it with your best friend and your cousin is a big accomplishment.”
“We’ve grown up together all my life, so it was great doing that with him,” Hudgins said.
Hudgins was first team all-GWOC American North last fall after starting at cornerback and wide receiver. He had 14 catches for 163 yards and four touchdowns and had 29 tackles and one interception. Hudgins also led the team with 15 kickoff returns for 291 yards.
Hudgins was a four-year varsity player and finished with 110 career tackles and 10 interceptions.
“It’s a lot of hard work, and you need a great mentality to do football,” Hudgins said. “You’ve got to love it if you want to do it at the next level, and I really love it.”
Hudgins, who will play in the Ohio North/South all-star game in April, was recruited as a cornerback by Tiffin. The Dragons, which finished 9-2 last year, will be led this fall by first-year coach Cris Reisert.
“I think Tiffin is going to be a great opportunity for him,” Doenges said. “They’re a perennial winner and they’re going to be continue to be good.”
Roberts was first team all-Southwest district in Division II and first team all-GWOC American North last fall. He led the team in receptions (29) and was second with 363 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Roberts finishes with 822 career receiving yards and nine touchdowns.
“I just hope that people noticed I tried my hardest in every game and left a mark, and I hope I will be considered one of the best athletes to attend Sidney,” Roberts said.
Roberts played football in junior high but didn’t play his freshman and sophomore seasons. After some convincing was done by family members and Doenges, he decided to go out the summer before his junior year.
He immediately became one of the team’s go-to receivers.
“He’s probably one of the kids I went after the hardest that I knew didn’t play football because I knew he could be pretty special,” Doenges said. “He learned to love the game and said he wanted to play at the next level, and he’s reached it. He’s going to a program on the rise and they’re going to continue to get better.”
Roberts was recruited as a receiver and is one of 54 players that will join Urbana this summer. The Blue Knights, which are led by fifth-year coach and Piqua graduate Tyler Haines, were 5-6 last year. The school’s stadium was renovated in 2017 and now holds over 3,000 people.
“It was different from any other visit I took,” Roberts said. “The players were super welcoming, the facilities, dorms and everything were great and the coaches were super nice. It’s a great atmosphere, and I feel it fits me very well.”
“I can tell (Haines) is a real good coach just by talking to him. I could tell he wanted me to play for him. I definitely knew he was a coach I could play for.”
Hudgins was also targeted by Urbana among other schools but said he liked Tiffin’s campus and staff the best.
“It’s a great goal to reach,” Hudgins said. “I’ve always dreamed about playing college football, and it’s fun to know I’ve reached it.”
Hudgins and Roberts said though they had higher goals than Sidney finishing 5-5 last fall, they’re happy to the help the program stay at a high level. The Yellow Jackets were without 19 players from its 10-2 squad from 2017, which included Div. I collegiate recruits Isaiah Bowser and Devan Rogers.
“I think we proved a lot of people wrong,” Hudgins said. “A lot of people thought it was going to be the downfall, but I think we proved a lot of people wrong and played good.”
“We put everything we had into every game, and we ended our season with the big win (over Greenville),” Roberts said. “I was happy with it, for sure.”
Hudgins said he has no doubts Sidney’s football team will continue to do well — and more alumni will continue to play collegiately.
“There’s going to be a lot more players come out of Sidney after us that play college football,” Hudgins said.
Both Hudgins and Roberts said they’re undecided on majors but hope to pick one soon.
The duo were also key basketball players for Sidney and were both named honorable mention all-Southwest district in Div. I last week. Roberts, a forward, averaged 10 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while Hudgins, a guard, averaged 7.8 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.
Hudgins has been a three-sport athlete in his four years at Sidney. Aside from basketball, he also ran track.
“That doesn’t happen here or other schools our size,” Doenges said of being a three-sport athlete all four years of high school. “Being able to play three sports and make a commitment to the weight room when you can and make sure your grades stay above a 3.0 (GPA), it’s special.”
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.