The Ready High School football team might not face a better quarterback this season than the one it is matched up against in its opener Friday, Aug. 30.
Led by a defensive back in senior Kelly Culbertson who had nine interceptions a year ago, the Silver Knights hope to control the overall threat presented by Newark Catholic's Chayce Crouch, an Illinois recruit.
The 6-foot-4, 221-pound Crouch is coming off a season in which he passed for 2,077 yards and 18 touchdowns while also running for 11 scores. He also was first-team all-district and all-state in Division VI as a punter.
Ready used the computer points gained from a 34-20 win over Newark Catholic in its opener a season ago to help it make the Division IV playoffs, while the Green Wave earned a state runner-up finish.
The game will be played at Hilliard Bradley.
"(Crouch) is a Big Ten-caliber athlete, and any time you can get a scholarship, that speaks volumes," Ready coach Joel Cutler said. "He's got a very quick release and understands coverages. He's also a running quarterback.
"We played a lot of Division II and III teams in our scrimmages, and that's what gets us ready for our schedule."
The Knights again feature an offense built around senior lineman Brady Taylor (6-5, 275), senior running back Akili Taylor (1,125 yards and 10 touchdowns last season), senior quarterback Matt Yoho (69-for-133 passing for 1,085 yards, 13 touchdowns) and Culbertson (14 catches for 215 yards).
Brady Taylor, who has verbally committed to Virginia Tech, also starts on the defensive line.
Ready returns all but four key players from a year ago.
In addition to Crouch, Newark Catholic has a returning third-team all-state selection at safety in senior Mike Lohr and a third-team all-state choice on the offensive line in senior Brenden Jurden (6-2, 260).
Girls volleyball team has new lineup, coach
Coming off back-to-back Division III state tournament appearances but with a new coach and several new key players, the girls volleyball team is hoping to remain one of the area's top programs.
Mark Sisler took over last spring for Mike Kusan, who stepped down after leading Ready to a 114-44 record in six seasons. Ready was a state semifinalist in 2011 and a state runner-up a year ago when it finished 20-9 overall.
"I know they lost some big studs from last year, but I feel like the underclassmen have come along really well," said Sisler, who has coaching experience at the college and club levels. "The hardest part for them is learning the new system. We're running a fast-tempo college system."
The top returnees from the team that lost to Casstown Miami East 28-26, 25-15, 25-17 in the state final are seniors Katelyn Keyes (setter/right-side hitter), Lauren Rivera (libero) and Rose Thacker (middle hitter).
The other seniors are Elisabeth Palazzo (outside hitter), Mallory Vrancken (defensive specialist) and Sarah Warbis (defensive specialist). Also on the team are juniors Meg Beattie (right-side hitter, middle hitter), Maggie Quinn (defensive specialist), Meredith Rivers (outside hitter) and Molly Russell (setter/right-side hitter) and sophomores Morgan Ball (outside hitter), Holly Guggenbiller (outside hitter/right-side hitter), Nicole Naporano (middle hitter) and Sarah Powell (defensive specialist).
In addition to Kusan, the Knights lost his daughter, Kent State signee Karley Kusan, among a five-member graduating class.
Cross country teams return top runners
Sophomore Kathleen Colvin of the girls cross country team and junior Cody Platter of the boys team are back after both made their respective regional meets a year ago.
Colvin, who finished 72nd (21 minutes, 42.28 seconds) in the Division II regional, is the top returnee for a girls team that was fourth (76) in the CCL meet behind champion Watterson (49). She was 13th (21:08.89) in the district meet.
Also back are seniors Maddy Bowen, Maria Ciotola, Sydney Gammon, Brianne Schell and Allie Schroeder, junior Courtney Bair and sophomore Emily Genders. Seniors Lauren Schlanser and Ava Wilford and freshman Katie Perry also are looking to contribute.
Platter helped Ready place fourth (116) in the CCL meet behind champion St. Charles and eighth (217) in the Division III, district 1 meet behind champion Liberty Union (44). The boys will compete in Division II this season.
Platter, who was 11th (17:40.15) at district and 58th (18:31.45) at regional, is joined in the junior class by Andrew Duncan, Mark Gnatowski, Adam Hutton, Steve Landy and Mark Vatter. Sophomore Henry Tokar and freshman Andrew Pindell also are on the team.
"I think my girls are going to be very competitive and Cody Platter is going to be good," coach Dean Tower said.
Girls tennis team has young lineup
After 2013 graduates Ashley Ritter and Michelle Vatter played first and second singles, respectively, a year ago, there are no seniors in this year's lineup.
Sophomore Ellie McAndrew is at first singles, junior Mallory Green is at second singles and sophomore Elizabeth Wolf is playing third singles.
Sophomores Allie Leidinger and Leah Ruth are at first doubles and junior Ashley Wright and sophomore Dawn Ritter are playing second doubles.
Sophomores Megan McSweeney and Amanda Poe are newcomers who also have seen action.
The Knights beat Fisher Catholic 4-1 on Aug. 15 in their opener and lost to Grandview 4-1 on Aug. 20.
"They're a young team, so we just want them to improve each match and build confidence," coach Jen Donaldson said. "I can already see a difference in some of these girls from last year."
Although Ritter and Vatter lost their opening matches in the Division II sectional tournament last season, Green won her first-round singles match before falling in the second round.