Bradford football ends first season back with playoff loss to Minster


By Drew Terhall

MINSTER — After having no varsity football season, the Bradford Railroaders made it to the OHSAA football playoffs for the first time since 2012 as a 12th seed.

They lost 50-8 to the fifth seed Minster at Minster. The Wildcats, coming off an 8-2 season in the MAC, scored all 50 points in the first half.

Head coach Nicholas Bandstra said he is proud of his team for giving it their full effort against a really good team.

“I’m proud of all of them. They did everything I asked them to do. Is it the result we want? No. We knew coming up here was a daunting task. We fought all night,” Bandstra said.

It was 50-0 at halftime. Minster scored 24 points in the first half. Junior quarterback James Niemeyer had four passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in the game.

The Railroaders made some plays early in the first quarter, but couldn’t string them together. Senior Garrett Trevino had an interception in the first quarter.

Junior quarterback Owen Canan made some nice throws to seniors Hudson Hill and Landon Wills. After getting a first down, the drive would stall out due to sacks or penalties.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Railroaders put together a scoring drive. Hill had two big catches during the drive. He fought through a defensive pass interference to get a first down near the redzone. He then mossed a defender for a 28-yard touchdown.

Canan ran in for the two-point conversion to not get shutout by the Wildcats.

The Railroaders end the 2023 season with a 5-5 record. Bandstra said during this whole process of bringing back the football program, the buy in has been great and the kids have done a great job.

He also said the program went from 13 kids in August of 2022 to now having 30 kids. Bandstra has helped grown that number by being involved with the school. Outside of teaching, he did attend many events to show his support for the kids.

Like some of the successful coaches before him, they were involved with the school outside of coaching the football team.

“Coach Shafer, was in the hallway everyday for years and then was the principal afterwards. Coach Enis was in that building almost daily and was a big part of that community. Especially when you’re talking small school football, you have to be in the building some kind of way. Whether it be a teacher or just being active in going to baseball games, basketball games or whatever it is,” Bandstra said.

The mantra for this team was ‘Brick by Brick.’ Bandstra said he felt the kids lived up to that and got better as the year went on. He does expect to see some of his players receive all-team honors for their season.

The team will lose nine seniors from this team. Bandstra is confident the program can keep progressing and keep growing.

“We lose a good senior class, but I think we return a lot of good kids. If we can keep going and keep building it, I think we’re on the right track,” Bandstra said.

Contact Daily Advocate sports editor Drew Terhall at [email protected]

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