Focused Morales secures state tennis title
Having faced her so many times over the past few years, Hartley High School girls tennis player Rachael Morales has lost track of her record against fellow senior My Linh Li of DeSales.
Hawks coach Lynn Winters believes Li might have the advantage in the all-time series between the CCL rivals, but their last meeting at the prep level belonged to Morales.
On Oct. 20 at Elysium Tennis Center in Plain City, Morales defeated Li 6-0, 6-2 to capture the Division II state singles championship.
"I came out and was just more focused this week," Morales said. "(Winters) told me I actually only (had) seven (unforced errors) this entire match. I just tried to stay more consistent."
Morales advanced to state each of her four prep seasons, but she lost in the second round in 2010 and in the first round last season after finishing third in 2009.
A Marshall University recruit, Morales opened the state tournament with wins over Lima Bath's Emily Ruhe (6-1, 6-1) and Cincinnati Country Day's Danielle Wolf (3-6, 6-0, 6-3) on Oct. 19 at Ohio State.
Morales then beat Portmouth's Ali Miller 6-1, 6-1 in a semifinal Oct. 20 at Elysium to move into the final.
Last season, Millersburg West Holmes' Rachel Nelson won the championship while Li took third and Wolf was fourth. Lexington's Courtney Earnest, a 2012 graduate who beat Morales 7-6 (7-5), 6-0 in a first-round match, went on to finish second.
Nelson settled for third this season.
"She's just playing some of the best tennis she's played," Winters said of Morales. "When she played the Wolf girl, I think she was just so determined since it was her fourth time here. She's been very focused."
Football team ready for Ready
Although his team is coming off blowout wins over Ready the last two seasons, football coach Brad Burchfield is expecting a much tougher task when the teams meet Friday, Oct. 26, at Hartley.
The Hawks beat Coshocton 41-6 on Oct. 19 to improve to 9-0 and likely have clinched a home playoff game in Division IV, Region 14.
The Silver Knights went 4-6 each of the last two seasons and lost to Hartley 42-12 a year ago and 41-13 in 2010, but they are 7-1 and would lock up a playoff berth in Region 14 with a win.
"They're very well-coached and are very good fundamentally," Burchfield said. "Athletically, they have a great tandem at running back with Akili Taylor and Doug Strickler and their quarterback (Matt Yoho) is very efficient. They're offensive line is very big. It's going to be our toughest challenge to date."
Taylor and Strickler have rushed for 927 and 903 yards, respectively, and Yoho is 54-for-95 passing for 871 yards. Strickler, who did not play last season but is one of just three seniors for Ready, has scored 14 touchdowns.
Through eight games, Hartley running back Ja'Wuan Woodley had rushed for 1,094 yards and 14 touchdowns and Marcellus Calhoun had 831 yards rushing and 16 scores.
Burchfield also said inside linebacker Nick King and cornerbacks Dominique Scott and Trevonn Brown have been key role players.
"It feels good to be 9-0," Burchfield said.