A year ago, the Ready High School wrestling team had a Division III state champion for the first time since 1999 and four district qualifiers.
Just five competitors stuck with the program the entire season, though, leaving it in a precarious position heading into the offseason.
With several freshmen now on the team, the Silver Knights plan to fill several of the weight classes around a group of seniors led by Dalton Scott (138 or 145 pounds) and Patrik Garren (heavyweight).
Garren captured the state title at heavyweight and finished 42-1 last season, while Scott was 0-2 at state at 138 and finished 31-12.
"We were down to just five guys, but our numbers are up a little bit, which is good," second-year coach James Yonushonis said. "We still won't have some of the smaller weights like 106 or 113, but those can be hard to fill. We're really excited about having more guys out because I think we'll do a lot better in tournaments."
The other returnees are seniors Will Martello (160), Steven Pozz (132) and Patrick Stover (152). In last year's sectional, Stover and Garren won titles, Scott was second and Martello took third to advance to district. Martello finished 29-14 and Stover was 29-11.
Senior Greyson Budd (220) is back after not competing last winter.
New to the program are sophomores Nathan Koch (120/126) and Jon Vincent (heavyweight) and freshmen Franco Arreola (126), Conner Carrera (145), Adam George (160/170), Daniel Halko (132/138), Patrick Jansen (170/182) and Matthew Stover (145).
Football team had 'special' season
With nearly every key player returning from a squad that bounced back from consecutive 4-6 seasons to go 7-4 and make the Division IV playoffs a year ago, the football team expected to be one of the state's best in Division VI this fall.
That's exactly how it played out for Ready, which lost to top-ranked Kirtland 10-7 in a state semifinal Nov. 29 at Arlin Field in Mansfield to finish 12-2.
It marked the first time since 2007 that the Knights advanced that deep into the postseason.
"It was definitely a special season with a special group of kids," second-year coach Joel Cutler said. "I'm really, really proud of their efforts and accomplishments. They got to week 14 and that's nothing to be ashamed of."
Ready won its first nine games before losing to Hartley 21-14 in overtime Nov. 1, giving the Hawks the CCL-Gold Division title. The second-seeded Knights then beat Oak Hill (48-6 on Nov. 8), Woodsfield Monroe Central (45-14 on Nov. 15) and Newark Catholic (48-21 on Nov. 22) to win the Region 21 title.
Leading the way were seniors Bran-den Bailey (RB/LB), Nickolas Chapman (RB/DL), Kelly Culbertson (WR/DB), Akili Taylor (RB), Brady Taylor (OL/DL) and Matt Yoho (QB) and juniors Anthony Havens (DB), Alvin Knox (LB) and Connor Lancia (WR/DB).
Yoho completed 86 of 148 passes for 1,740 yards with 25 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Akili Taylor rushed for 1,992 yards and 27 touchdowns. He was named district Offensive Player of the Year and a co-Offensive Player of the Year in the state.
Culbertson had 22 catches for 578 yards and nine touchdowns and two interceptions. He made second-team all-state on defense.
Bailey and Chapman each scored 10 touchdowns and both were among the leading tacklers.
Knox led in tackles with 113 and was first-team all-state and all-district.
Brady Taylor had 17 tackles for loss and made first-team all-state on offense.
Lancia led in interceptions with five and averaged 38.4 yards per punt, while Havens added three interceptions.
Seniors Hunter Clanin (WR/DB, 16 catches), Myles Fowler (WR/DB, 5 touchdowns, 3 interceptions) and DeAndre Golden (RB/LB, 7 touchdowns) didn't begin the season with the team but became key contributors.
Juniors Aidan Dulin (K), Alex Eblin (TE/LB), Seth Stock (LB) and Tre Windham (OL/DL) were other contributors eligible to return.
New format could benefit bowlers
The expansion of the OHSAA into two divisions for boys and girls bowling is something coach Russ Rehner hopes will benefit his program.
Both the boys and girls squads won Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-Central Division titles a year ago, but the boys didn't advance to district and the girls finished 17th of 18 teams in a district tournament that included several programs now in Division I.
"We're now in Division II, so it's going to be interesting," Rehner said. "I think it should benefit us. I expect good things this year."
Both teams return nearly all of their key contributors from last season.
Back to lead the girls are seniors Jordan Bair, Olivia DePassio, Kay-Lee Dunkle, Paige Sutfin, Marina Sweet and Madison Whitehead. Also looking to contribute is sophomore Elizabeth Wolf.
Back to lead the boys team are seniors Andy Rinehart and Payne VanTilburg, who shot 559 (26th) and 460 (71st), respectively, as individuals at district.
Other key performers should be seniors Zach Bair and Ron Morrison and juniors Tim Dalton, Justin Gibson and Andrew Rowe. Senior Austin Carnes is new to the team, which also includes freshman Ryan O'Harra.