For the first time in six years and just the third time since the inception of the playoffs in 1972, the Ready High School football team advanced to a state semifinal.
The Silver Knights defeated Newark Catholic 48-21 in the Division VI, Region 21 final Nov. 22 at Gahanna to improve to 12-1 and played Kirtland in a state semifinal Nov. 29 at Arlin Field in Mansfield.
The semifinal winner faces Haviland Wayne Trace or Mechanicsburg in the state final Thursday, Dec. 5, or Friday, Dec. 6, at a time and place to be determined.
Entering play Nov. 29, Kirtland was 13-0, Wayne Trace was 12-1 and Mechanicsburg was 11-2. In the final state poll, Kirtland was first, Ready was fifth and Wayne Trace was 10th.
"It's a great thing," senior wide receiver Kelly Culbertson said. "We're so happy to be in the final four."
Kirtland, which won the Division V state championship in 2011 and was the Division V state runner-up a year ago, had won 42 of 43 games before playing Ready.
Wayne Trace won its first regional title by beating Ada 68-14 in the Region 20 final Nov. 22, with quarterback Colby Speice tying a state record by throwing for nine touchdowns as he completed 25 of 42 passes for 534 yards.
That same night, Mechanicsburg won its first regional championship by rallying from a 15-point deficit to defeat West Liberty-Salem 34-28 in double overtime in the Region 22 final.
The Indians were led by freshman quarterback Kaleb Romero, who threw for 257 yards and hooked up with wide receiver Brandon Purk nine times for 187 yards and two scores.
Ready, which won the Division IV state championship in 1983 by beating Orrville 43-15 in the final and lost to Youngstown Ursuline 28-6 in a Division V state semifinal in 2007, was seeded fifth in Region 21.
Fourth-seeded Newark Catholic, which also lost to Ready 26-14 on Aug. 30, finished 11-2.
Ready found success through the air against the Green Wave, as senior quarterback Matt Yoho was 18-for-21 passing for 244 yards with three touchdowns. Nine players had at least one catch for the Knights, with Culbertson leading the way with four receptions for 71 yards.
Newark Catholic held senior running back Akili Taylor to 72 yards rushing.
"I always had it in mind that what if they loaded up the box (against the run), what would our answer be, and (Yoho) played his tail off," coach Joel Cutler said. "We put a lot on his plate and he put us in the right plays and was throwing strikes."
Boys basketball coach likes team's makeup
With three expected key players still with the football team, the boys basketball team opened its season in the L-Town Tipoff Classic held Nov. 29 and 30 at London.
Because it involved four teams, fifth-year coach Don Worstell decided not to withdraw his team from the London event despite having low numbers at practice throughout November.
The Knights plan to not let the situation get in the way of achieving their primary goals: Move up in the CCL standings and make a run in the Division III tournament.
Last season, Ready finished 14-11 overall, went 1-7 in the CCL to tie DeSales for fourth behind champion Watterson (8-0) and reached a district final as the eighth seed before losing to sixth-seeded Worthington Christian 46-38.
"We really like our group," Worstell said. "It's really a neat group of kids and they're hard-working kids who defend pretty consistently."
Expected to be key players after football season concludes are senior returnees Matt Yoho (6-foot-4, post player) and Kelly Culbertson (5-9, guard) and senior newcomer Myles Fowler (6-1, guard), a transfer from Westland.
The roster includes five other seniors in Josh Gantz (6-6, post player), Jimmy Hanley (6-2, guard), Alec Holt (5-9, guard), Shane Lee (6-0, guard) and Antonio Pulsinelli (6-4, guard/forward).
Also looking to contribute is junior Codi Platter (5-10, guard).
Gantz averaged eight points last season but had 17 points and seven rebounds in the district final. Yoho averaged five points last season and Hanley and Lee both averaged three.
The Knights lost their top two scorers from last season, guards Doug Strickler (11 points per game) and Kyle Wilgus (9 ppg), to graduation.
"We felt like we played really well outside of our league and we got to the district final, so we definitely did some very good things," Worstell said.
Girls team returns experienced lineup
Girls basketball coach Joe Lang believes his team will have enough depth to make a postseason run later this season after reaching a Division III district semifinal a year ago as the eighth seed before falling to fourth-seeded Fredericktown 46-37 to finish 14-11 overall.
Ready, which opened Nov. 23 with a 61-43 win over Worthington Kilbourne, returns several experienced players, including 5-9 junior forward Lauren Ruth and 5-6 sophomore guard Delaney Cutteridge.
Ruth was the leading scorer last season among the returnees, averaging 9.2 points. Cutteridge averaged 4.3 points.
"I've got nine kids on the team, and seven of them are seniors," said Lang, who entered his 33rd season with a career record of 436-284. "Our feeling is that this is kind of the year we've been gearing for for the last three years. We've got a lot of experience and a lot of athletes."
The seniors are Margie Berkemeyer (6-0, post player), Holland Jones (5-7, guard), Bobbie Menke (6-0, post player/wing player), Elisabeth Palazzo (5-8, post player/wing player), Haley Patel (5-6, guard), Caroline Riewe (5-6, guard) and Allie Schroeder (5-7, guard).
Berkemeyer missed time each of the past two seasons with illness but averaged 7.6 points in 20 games a year ago. Riewe, who is the team's point guard, averaged 4.3 points last season and Palazzo averaged 2.6.
Jones missed all of last season with a hip injury.
Sophomores Ellie McAndrew (5-6, guard), Rachel Neff (5-10, post player) and Leah Ruth (5-7, guard) are others looking to contribute.
Ready, which placed fourth in the CCL last season at 2-6, plays nine Division I teams and has 16 road games.