Silver Knights (12-1) Hornets (13-0)
The Ready High School football team finds itself in a situation that reminds coach Joel Cutler of one that occurred more than a decade ago.
When he was an assistant at Upper Arlington in 2000, the Golden Bears edged Cincinnati Colerain 10-7 in a Division I state semifinal in a matchup of undefeated teams before winning the championship the next week.
While he hopes his latest trip to the state tournament ends with the same result, the Silver Knights must get past undefeated Kirtland to do so.
The Hornets are 13-0 and Ready is 12-1 entering a Division VI state semifinal Friday, Nov. 29, at Arlin Field in Mansfield.
The winner plays Haviland Wayne Trace or Mechanicsburg for the championship Dec. 5 or 6 in Fawcett Stadium in Canton or Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon.
Kirtland was first and Ready was fifth in the final state poll.
"It's just funny because about 13 years ago when I was at Upper Arlington we played Colerain in the final four and then we (beat) Solon (15-9 in the state final)," Cutler said. "This has almost that same kind of feel to it."
Kirtland has won 42 of its last 43 games, with its only loss during that time coming to Coldwater 10-9 in last year's Division V state final.
Ready lost in the first round of the Division IV playoffs last year but had its only slip this fall during a 21-14 overtime loss to Hartley on Nov. 1.
The Hornets, who won their first state title in 2011, have won every game this season by at least 27 points.
While Ready beat Newark Catholic 48-21 in the Region 21 final Nov. 22 at Gahanna, Kirtland blew past Mogadore 45-7 for the Region 19 title at Twinsburg.
Led by senior running back Sam Kukura, who rushed for 218 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries, Kirtland finished with 462 total yards against Mogadore.
Through 12 games, Kukura had rushed 94 times for 1,253 yards and 23 touchdowns, junior running back Adam Hess had 1,123 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns on 124 carries and junior quarterback Sam Skiljan was 58 of 91 passing for 1,252 yards with 19 touchdowns.
On defense, blitzing is a big part of the Hornets' success, and they have nearly 30 takeaways on the season.
Ready also was difficult to stop on both sides of the ball in the rematch with Newark Catholic, which finished 11-2 and also lost to the Knights 26-14 on Aug. 30.
Senior quarterback Matt Yoho was 18-for-21 passing for 244 yards with three touchdowns, as nine Ready players caught at least one pass in the regional final.
Nick Skordilis (DL) and Anthony Havens (DB) had fumble recoveries and DeAndre Golden (DB) had an interception.
"Everyone has Kirtland as the favorite, but don't count the Silver Knights as underdogs," Yoho said.
"We're one of 28 teams still practicing (this) week. We're working hard and we're on that quest for the state title."