The setting should feel familiar for Brian Cross when he steps onto the field next fall as Ready High School football coach.
Among his memories from when he was coach at Grove City from 1987-2002 is he never had to look far for athletes who "loved to play football."
With Ready located just a few miles away, and with many of its students coming from that community, it seemed like a logical fit to Cross when the position with the Silver Knights came open in late January.
Cross accepted the job Feb. 21 and met with his players three days later.
"As far as the kids are concerned, obviously they've got good, hard-nosed, physical kids," he said. "I always thought Ready would be a good place to coach. They have their challenges at Ready, with the biggest thing probably that they don't have a football stadium. ... But they are challenges I believe I can handle."
Cross, a 1970 graduate of Warren Harding who is 62 years old, will begin his 33rd season as a head coach next fall.
He spent the past six seasons at Olentangy Orange, a tenure that ended Nov. 22 by what he called "a mutual agreement." Cross had been the only coach in the history of that program, leading it to a 33-30 mark that included league titles and playoff appearances in 2009 and 2011.
Cross had two losing seasons at Orange, including last fall when it went 1-9. His career record is 218-124.
Cross plans to teach at Orange in 2014-15 before retiring from teaching.
"I'd like to think I'm committed to coach as long as I can, as long as I'm doing the program justice," he said. "I really can't give it a number, but I'd say a minimum of five years.
"Ready has had great tradition when you look at their record over the last 10 years. The cupboard definitely is not bare, so it was kind of an easy decision. ... I think it's going to be exciting."
Cross coached Andover Pymatuning Valley to a 15-13 record from 1982-84 and Eastmoor to a 15-5 mark in 1985-86. He then guided Grove City to a 114-55 mark that included eight OCC titles and seven Division I playoff appearances.
Cross followed that by coaching Canton McKinley to a 41-21 record from 2003-07. The Bulldogs were Division I state runners-up in 2004.
After his tenure ended at Orange, Cross looked into coaching vacancies at Grove City and Bloom-Carroll before turning his interest to Ready.
Joel Cutler stepped down Jan. 6 to take over at Upper Arlington after leading the Knights to a 19-5 mark in two seasons. Ready went 12-2 and reached a Division VI state semifinal last fall.
"It was important for us to find someone who could step in and build on the momentum and tradition that we have at Bishop Ready," athletics director Michael Rossetti said. "(Cross') tough, hard-nosed disciplined style of coaching is something that our kids will respond to and thrive in.
"Coach Cross has deep roots in Grove City, an area of town where we pull students from. He knows and understands the makeup of our students and the types of families they come from."
Junior Alvin Knox, a first-team all-state linebacker who should be among the top returnees next season, is excited about carrying on the team's 2013 success.
"What (Cross) said is that everybody is going to start off good, and that he's going to follow our tradition and make us the best we can," Knox said. "We've kept lifting ever since before the new coach came in, so we're getting prepared for the coming season. Personally, I think we're ready."