Belpre’s Bailey Sprague headed to Marietta College for football

STEVE HEMMELGARN The Marietta Times Belpre High School senior Bailey Sprague (front row, middle) has signed to play football at Marietta College. Attending the celebration Wednesday were (others in the front row, from left) his brother Blake, mother Kerri, father B.J. and sister Britan, (back row, from left) Belpre principal Dennis Eichinger, assistant principal/athletic director Stephanie Evans, head boys basketball coach Tyler Leasure, head baseball coach Terry Mullen, former head football coach Greg Adams and Belpre City Schools Superintendent Tony Dunn.

BELPRE — Belpre High School’s Bailey Sprague has signed to play football on the next level at Marietta College, and the 6-4, 210-pounder is anticipating that he may have a good shot at punting for the Pioneers as just a mere freshman.

In addition to punting and place-kicking for the Golden Eagles, Sprague also played tight end for Belpre. Marietta College head coach Andy Waddle told Greg Adams, Belpre’s head coach who retired in January, that “could certainly be an asset for us too,” said Adams. “But I think they’re more interested in his kicking skills, that’s what Waddle expressed to me.”

Especially since the MC quarterback had to punt last season, so Sprague may see action right off the bat, “since they were in need of a punter,” he said.

“So I saw an opportunity to come in as a freshman and start. I jumped at that. I’d really enjoy to come in and play varsity my freshman year this fall — that’d be cool.”

And Adams verified that Sprague can be the Pioneers’ punter right now. “Through eight games last fall, Bailey averaged 42 yards a punt — and that’s major college numbers,” said his former coach.

Plus, even after the last two games when Sprague’s punt distance dropped to 40.3 yards, “that’s still wonderful numbers,” said Adams.

Adams praised Sprague as “the player that every coach would dream of having. He was always respectable, always did what he was asked to do, and was without question the leader of our team.

“Then you take his attitude, his grades — he’s a smart young man — and there’s no question in my mind that he will be a true asset for Marietta College.”

After Adams expressed to Sprague that he “felt Bailey really had an opportunity to further his education by playing football somewhere in college,” Sprague got together a list of schools that he was interested in and Adams sent out information packets about Sprague to those colleges. And ironically, “the first school that Bailey ever mentioned to me and was at the top of his list was Marietta College,” said Adams.

“Marietta College is a good school; I went there,” said Adams. “I think it’s a wonderful fit for him, plus it’s also close to home — just 15 minutes away.”

Sprague agreed MC “was just a good fit” for him. “I liked pretty much everything there — the entire situation fit — and it’s close to home. I want to stay home with my family. With my siblings especially, they’re still both younger, so I don’t want to leave and go too far.”

And obviously, with Belpre just down Ohio 7 from Marietta, Sprague knew about Marietta College already. “They have a good program; I really like coach Waddle and like what they’re doing and the direction they’re going,” said Sprague. “And I think I can help a lot.”

Most other college offers for Sprague came from MC’s conference, the Ohio Athletic Conference. “But Marietta really separated itself from the others, and I was able to work things out to go there,” said Sprague.

He is going to study health sciences at Marietta College, and after that, Sprague plans to go on to Ohio University for a graduate program in physical therapy.

A three-sport athlete — football, basketball and baseball — at Belpre, Sprague also captained all three sports.

His athletic honors include first-team all-state in football as a senior and in baseball, Sprague was a three-year all-TVC selection and first-team all-Southeast District as a junior.