Cleveland Browns star Denzel Ward motivates current Nordonia football team

Knights and Browns both looking for championship seasons
Published: Nov. 12, 2021 at 4:20 AM EST
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MACEDONIA, Ohio (WOIO) - Browns cornerback Denzel Ward picked off a Joe Burrows pass and ran 99 yards for a touchdown as Cleveland beat the Bengals last Sunday.

The loudest cheers came from his former Nordonia High School coaches.

“He intercepted the pass and I’m watching him run and I’m watching Samples, the tight end, and I’m like, ‘Don’t run him down, don’t run him down!,’” remembered Scott Bardwidi, who coached the defensive backs while Denzel Ward played at Nordonia.

“I was actually driving home from game-planning Sunday morning, honking my horn on Interstate-271 as I heard the call on the radio,” said head coach Jeff Fox.

“I actually texted him Sunday night,” added Barwidi. “I asked him where that signature finish line lean was and he said, ‘Coach, I was so tired, I couldn’t do it, y’know!’”

That signature finish line lean made Ward a state track champion, speed that made No. 4 on the football field a legend a Nordonia.

“It’s a big legacy jersey,” said Cooper Rusk, the current No. 4. “Denzel started that and all those guys went all-state.”

Nordonia is currently in the state regional semi-finals, a 10-2 team set to play Archbishop Hoban on Friday.

Ward is also motivating other players, like Jon Henderson, currently playing his old cornerback position.

“It shows little guys like us, we can go play in big leagues, we can go play in the NFL, play college,” said Henderson.

“He was a big motivator to see that someone can go from Nordonia and go to the league, which I want to do myself,” added defensive back Bryan Russ.

“It makes it even more fun it’s our hometown team, a kid from our high school has been so productive,” said Coach Fox.

Ward is listed at 5‘11″ and 190 pounds, playing at Ohio State University before the Browns drafted him No. 4 in 2018.

Seeing him succeed makes the dream of playing at the next level for this current group of Nordonia players is attainable, even if his records aren’t.

“Him having 28 receiving touchdowns, setting a record here is, that’s unheard of,” said Rusk.

“I got six picks, I’m trying to break Denzel’s record. I’m not going to lie,” added Henderson. “We still have games to play. I’m three away.

Denzel’s 2014 Nordonia team lost in the state finals to Cincinnati La Salle 55-20 after a 14-0 season. The current team looks to avenge that loss.

“We’re going to win for him, we’re going to win for everybody,” said Russ. “He’s living his dream.”

Ward’s currently playing for a championship with the Cleveland Browns as they take on the Patriots in New England this Sunday.

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