A year after experiencing its longest playoff run since it won the Division IV state championship in 1983, the Ready High School football team nearly match that finish.

A year after experiencing its longest playoff run since it won the Division IV state championship in 1983, the Ready High School football team nearly match that finish.

It was a march that was improbable, considering that even one stumble over the past six games likely would have caused the Silver Knights' season to crumble.

After winning its opening two games, Ready lost to West Jefferson 26-18 on Sept. 5 and then had its next two opponents cancel. After a two-week layoff, the Silver Knights fell to Jonathan Alder 21-9 on Sept. 26 and were faced with a situation in which they likely needed to win their final four games even to have a postseason.

That's exactly what they did, including edging Lima Central Catholic 10-9 on Oct. 3 and routing Hartley 52-6 on Oct. 24 to earn the fifth seed in Division V, Region 19 and win the CCL-Gold Division title.

Wins over Johnstown 21-17 on Nov. 1 and Portsmouth West 17-0 on Nov. 8 propelled Ready into the regional championship Nov. 15 at Hamilton Township, where it lost to Liberty Union 13-3 to finish 8-3.

"We had our backs against the wall every week," said╩coach Larry Wolf, whose team advanced to a state semifinal a year ago. "At this point, 8-3 doesn't feel very good, but it's going to feel better later on. For six straight weeks, we found ways to win. If you lose to Lima Central Catholic, then you probably lose to Hartley, and at 5-3 we probably don't make it in."

Ready scored its only points against Liberty Union on a 20-yard field goal by senior kicker Mike Morgan with 10 minutes, 45 seconds remaining and gave up its only touchdown on a blocked punt that was recovered in the end zone.

The Silver Knights will lose 17 seniors.

Included in that group on offense are running back Collin Leidinger, wide receiver Stevie Christman and offensive lineman Dean Cullison.

Ready hasn't had a 1,000-yard rusher since Wolf took over 10 seasons ago, but Leidinger made second-team all-district after leading the team in rushing with more than 900 yards and also scored 17 touchdowns. Christman had 25 catches for 382 yards and five touchdowns.

Cullison missed the last two months with a knee injury but made second-team all-district for the second consecutive season.

Morgan was the team's kicker and punter since his freshman year and this year made 32 of 34 extra points and 11 of 13 field goals and was first-team all-district. He also averaged 35 yards per punt.

Freshman John Wright is his likely successor.

Junior quarterback Brennan McCarty, who passed for 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns and made honorable mention all-district, will be back to lead the offense. Junior tight end Dana DePassio had 18 catches and sophomore running back Demetrius Clark rushed for more than 300 yards and scored six touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Jordan Carnes had 11 receptions and three touchdowns. Junior Cody Culbertson averaged 12 yards on punt returns.

Defensively, Ready loses second-team all-district linebacker A.J. Herron and first-team all-district lineman Tyler Collins as well as Christman in the secondary and Joey Kulp at linebacker.

Junior Lucas Detty will be back to lead the defensive line after╩starting for the second consecutive season╩and Culbertson will return in the backfield.

The other seniors are Philippe Dumont, Jesse Hill, Blaine Kelly, Marty Kelly, Cameron Lelonek, Aaron Murray, Ryan Muzik, Matt Petrie, Nate Thomas and Billy Yokum.

"Obviously it'll be nice to have Brennan back," Wolf said. "He only had a turnover in three of our games and we threw the ball 17, 18 times a game. We're looking forward to having Dana DePassio back. He had a great year at tight end for us. On defense, Lucas Detty will be a three-year starter for us and Cody Culbertson can play."

Ready's Collin Leidinger (left) is brought down by Liberty Union's Shane Little on Nov. 15 during their Division V regional final. The Silver Knights lost 13-3 to finish 8-3.