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Senior spotlight: Virginia recruit Christian Baumgardner can do it all for Ocean City football

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By GIUSEPPE UNGARO Managing Editor Christian Baumgardner has many ways to wreak havoc on the gridiron. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Ocean City High School senior has size, strength, speed and intelligence to disrupt offenses and ruin an opponent’s best-laid defensive game plan. Sometimes, just being Baumgardner is enough to make a difference. In the Red Raiders’ latest win, a 29-24 victory over host Atlantic City on Oct. 23, the tight end’s only entry into the stat sheet offensively was a two-point conversion catch. The University of Virginia commitment didn’t find the end zone, didn’t have a key first down and didn’t even have a catch. However, he was one of the reasons why the Red Raiders scored 29 points on the Vikings. Atlantic City was well aware of the soon-to-be Division I player and where he was on the field at all times, often making sure there were at least two players in his shadow. That gave his teammates more opportunities to make plays. “Against Atlantic City, he didn’t get the ball because they were rotating coverage (to him). It opened things up for Jared Jones, our wide receiver, who had over 100 yards receiving,” Ocean City coach Kevin Smith said. “Some kids would be moping or pouting because he’s not getting the football, but he understood what the situation was and we were able to win the game partly because they were paying so much attention to him.” “When I’m running routes, I see two or three DBs are shifting over me and covering me, and then the running back is finding a hole and getting a good gain, I definitely I get satisfaction out of that — knowing I’m doing whatever I can do to help the team and the team is doing well,” said Baumgardner, a Longport resident. Ocean City senior tight end Christian Baumgardner lunges for a first down during the Red Raiders' matchup with St. Augustine Prep earlier this season. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O'Sullivan) Ocean City senior tight end Christian Baumgardner lunges for a first down during the Red Raiders’ matchup with St. Augustine Prep earlier this season. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O’Sullivan) Although Baumgardner — who is graduating early to start college in January — is looking forward to his near future at the University Of Virginia, his focus is on helping Ocean City get better each day and each game. The Red Raiders came into November with a 2-5 record after winning two of their last three games. Three of the losses were by a touchdown or less. The Red Raiders host perennial power St. Joseph on Nov. 6. “It’s always tough going out grinding and not coming out on top,” Baumgardner said. “Sometimes it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. If you push through it, the results will show.” The Atlantic City game aside, Baumgardner has been able to get loose on offense with more than 20 catches and three touchdowns. “We move him all over the place and he is really versatile,” Smith said. “He can play as a traditional tight end, we can play him at H-back or split him out as a wide receiver; his versatility is one of the reasons why he is going to play at Virginia. He is a very coachable kid. He does a lot of positive things for us.” One of the many positive aspects of Baumgardner’s is his willingness to not only play defense, but also play a pivotal role on the defensive line. “I really like it. It’s more of an independent position. I can play on the ball and make a play,” Baumgardner said. “Sometimes there is only so much the other team can do to stop me. This year, I started to really see the difference on the defensive side of the ball.” After the game against St. Joseph, Baumgardner may only suit up in the Red Raiders jersey two more times — during a playoff or consolation game and the annual Thanksgiving Day game against Pleasantville. His focus then will be on his collegiate career. The Ocean City standout made his decision to become a Cavalier this past July. The school is an athletic and academic fit for Baumgardner, who carries a high GPA and said he wants to major in business. “I like the academics, I like that they play in the ACC. That’s big-time football,” Baumgardner said. “When I met the coaches, I liked them all and the campus is great, too. I like everything about it.” Contact Giuseppe Ungaro: gungaro@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDgisepu [adsense]

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