There might not be a bigger football game in the area Friday than the matchup featuring Hartley High School playing host to Ready.

There might not be a bigger football game in the area Friday than the matchup featuring Hartley High School playing host to Ready.

Not only will playoff spots be determined for both teams, but the winner will become the CCL-Gold Division champion.

Ready had two games with out-of-state opponents canceled this season and enters the contest 5-2 overall.

Ready's wins have been over Franklin Heights (47-0 on Aug. 22), St. Paris Graham (45-0 on Aug. 30), Lima Central Catholic (10-9 on Oct. 3), Ajax (Ontario) Notre Dame Catholic (42-7 on Oct. 10) and Saltsburg (Pa.) Kiski Prep (43-0 last Friday).

Its losses were to West Jefferson (26-18 on Sept. 5) and Jonathan Alder (21-9 on Sept. 26).

The Silver Knights defeated the Hawks 24-7 last year.

"When Hartley and Ready play, there's always a great deal on the line," coach Brad Burchfield said. "You come to Hartley to play in games like this. Because of the tradition, you're measured by what you do in this game. We've challenged our kids to rise to the occasion."

While Ready will run its traditional wing-T offense, the Silver Knights have also started running some pro-style formations in the last two weeks. That will force linebackers Malik McCord and Rufus Walls and defensive backs Luke Evans and Geoffrey Whiteside to stay honest instead of focusing primarily on the run.

Sometimes the best defense is a good offense and that might hold true in this game. Since losing to New Lexington 7-3 on Oct. 3, the Hawks have scored 85 points in their last two games.

Burchfield and the rest of the coaching staff often remind the players to take it one game at a time this season, but the first-year coach admits it was hard to keep the players from talking about Ready a few weeks early.

"From the first day I got the job, all I heard from the kids was what we had to do to beat Ready," Burchfield said. "They had a sour taste in their mouth from losing a year ago and it's been a source of motivation for them."

•While there were plans for the girls soccer team to return to the Division II district championship for the second consecutive year, the goal went unfulfilled. The Hawks were upset by Olentangy Orange 2-1 in a semifinal last Saturday.
Hartley conceded two goals on just three shots and got just one of its 15 shots past the goalkeeper.

"Well, sometimes that's just the way it goes," coach Keith Scarlett said. "We just couldn't find that final piece, though it wasn't for a lack of effort. (Olentangy Orange) just capitalized on the few chances they had and we didn't."
Hartley finished 8-4-6 overall and was third in the CCL at 2-1-2.

The Hawks will lose seniors Sarah Ahler (midfielder), Jess Bauman (goalkeeper), Lindsay Cannon (goalkeeper), Kara Justice (forward), Kelsey Kirkpatrick (midfielder), Alyssa Lauzau (forward), Sam Rudesill (midfielder) and Jordan Zang (forward).

Still, Hartley should have a good group of players coming back. The expected top returnees include juniors Jillian Knox (defender) and Jenn Moore (defender) and sophomores Kelsi Bobbitt (forward), Tricia Duffy (midfielder), Mackenzie Long (defender) and Carrie Kerscher (midfielder).

"I think the season went well in hindsight," Scarlett said. "You don't want to end with a loss but even with 30 seconds left we were still pushing.

"The seniors this year really took control. They've been with me since my first year here and they did a terrific job leading. Next year we need to be more consistent. That was our biggest problem. The girls put in a lot of work in the offseason last year and they'll do the same this year. The loss (to Olentangy Orange) will provide motivation."

•The field hockey season ended Oct. 14 for the Hawks, as they lost to Dublin Jerome 3-1 to finish 3-8-2.

"All in all, it was a transitional season for us," coach Jen Ulrich said. "We were more competitive with teams this year. There were three or four games where we lost but had been dominating the game. So next year I'm hoping we can finish games and do better than .500."

The team expects to return all but two players, seniors Maria Allen (defender) and Jane Cabarallo (forward).
Key players expected to return include Natalie Gabrenya (goalkeeper), Stephanie Boehm (defender) and Emily Strapp (forward). In a 4-0 loss to Thomas Worthington on Sept. 23, Gabrenya had 42 saves. Boehm and Strapp will be leaned upon for leadership next season.
Ulrich said the team's growth was noticeable.
"We had a lot of things I was happy about," Ulrich said. "They saw the field better. In the past they would just hit the ball and go chase it, but this year we transitioned a lot better."

The main thing the Hawks will work on in the offseason is conditioning. Ulrich thinks the team wasn't properly conditioned and had a hard time finishing games because of that.

"I felt like we tired out and the end of games," she said. "And that's the coach's fault. Maybe we didn't push them as much as we need to. We need to work on getting the kids focused as soon as they get on the field. We were a sporadic team so we need to be able to focus for an entire game."