The Ready High School boys soccer team will see how far a young roster can take it this season.
During a 3-10-2 season last fall that included an 0-4 mark in the CCL, the Silver Knights were led by a seven-member senior class that helped set the tone for stronger play late in the season.
Ready, which earned victories over Patriot Academy (7-0), Village Academy (2-0) and Williamsport Westfall (9-0) and tied Delaware Christian (3-all) and Northside Christian (2-all) last season, opened Aug. 25 with a 4-0 loss at Grove City Christian.
“As long as we can take each game and build upon it, that’s kind of what I’m looking for this season,” third-year coach Cameron VanTilburg said. “We’ve got some winnable games, but we’ve got to play our game. The CCL is tough.”
Leading the offense should be senior forward Nick Drew, junior center midfielder Kyle Caisaguano and freshman forward Erik Rodriguez.
Junior stopper German Garcia, junior sweeper Luke Bergman and junior outside back Eli Bowles should be the top defenders.
Freshman Angel Rivera should be an immediate contributor at midfielder, along with junior Jonathan Santiago.
Junior Jonas Happ (for-ward/outside midfielder) is another who could contribute.
Freshman Charlie Thimling is expected to be at goalkeeper after the projected starter, Bailey Garren, transferred to Grove City Christian for his junior season.
The biggest losses to graduation were Jordan Gantz (center midfielder), who was first-team all-CCL, and Clay Cutteridge (sweeper), Alan Delgado (center midfielder) and Aaron Moehrman (left back), all of whom were second-team all-league.
“I’ve got a very junior-heavy class,” VanTilburg said. “It’s tough because I had to replace seven seniors, six of which started, so that’s a big hole to fill. We’re pretty young. I’ve only got one senior this year so we’re having growing pains, but we’re making good strides.”
Volleyball team looks to reload
The girls volleyball team has reached at least a Division III district semifinal each of the past 10 seasons and would like to extend that mark this fall.
To do so, the Knights must overcome the loss of eight graduates, including several key contributors.
Senior Lauren Whitt, a three-time state qualifier in track and field, is in her third season as a starter and will lead the attack at outside hitter.
Sophomore Bella Illig started at libero last year but has moved to outside hitter.
Junior Bre Hejduk, who also is a returnee, and junior Kiley Gallagher are the setters.
Freshmen Megan Chesser, Simone Daniels and Kaitlyn Lancia are expected to see time at middle hitter and right-side hitter, with junior Lauren Schlosser and sophomore Katie Gallagher leading the defense.
Ready is coming off a 9-15 season in which it went 0-8 in the CCL, but it beat eventual Division III district runner-up Galion Northmor late in the regular season.
Then in the district tournament, the 10th-seeded Knights upset ninth-seeded Centerburg in four games to reach a district semifinal.
Hannah Williams (outside hitter/right-side hitter), Jordan Kusan (setter), Brenna Forrest (middle hitter) and Bella Hoersten (defensive specialist/outside hitter) were the biggest losses to graduation.
Ready, which opened with a 25-21, 25-16, 18-25, 14-25, 15-13 victory Aug. 18 over Fairfield Christian and lost to Hamilton Township 25-14, 25-19, 25-11 on Aug. 22, was 3-1 before opening CCL action Aug. 28 against Watterson.
“(It’s a) rebuilding year for the volleyball team,” said Mike Kusan, who is in the third season of his second tenure heading the program. “We will be inexperienced with only one senior. We have good athletes in our program that play multiple sports. Our girls are working hard and competing every day for playing time. The future is very bright for our program and we’re excited to start the season.”
Football team facing another tough test
The football team opened Aug. 24 with a 28-0 loss to Genoa Area, the first of three consecutive 2017 playoff teams on its schedule.
The next matchup is with perennial playoff contender West Jefferson, which plays host to the Knights on Friday, Aug. 31.
The last time the programs met was 2009, with Ready winning 24-21. Both teams ended up in the Division V, Region 20 playoffs that season but lost their first-round games.
The Roughriders are coming off one of their strongest seasons under 17th-year coach Shawn Buescher, as they went 12-1 and reached the Region 20 final before losing to Middletown Madison 42-7.
West Jefferson has made nine playoff appearances overall under Buescher.
The Roughriders, who opened Aug. 24 with a 27-20 victory over Duncan Falls Philo, lost nearly all of their key players from last season, including quarterback Lance Lambert, who was named district Offensive Player of the Year, and five others who earned district honors.
Buescher, who was named district Coach of the Year, has a new quarterback and a new group of players at all the other skill positions.
The top returnee is senior Justin Williams, who had three interceptions last season at safety and is taking over at quarterback.
Other returnees include seniors Hunter Braithwaite (TE/LB), Louis Carmona (OL/DL), Wyatt Dillion (DB/RB), Chet Lohr (OL/DL) and Austin Swaney (RB/LB) and junior Gabe Jones (RB/DB). Braithwaite is in his third season as a starter.
“We’ve only got eight seniors, but we have 68 kids in grades 9-12 and another 42 in our middle school, so we’re excited about the numbers this year and in the future,” Buescher said. “(Williams) has got an extremely strong arm, as good as anyone we’ve had. He’s a great athlete, a tremendous runner and is (6-foot-4, 185 pounds) and those are legit numbers, so he’s a dual-threat kid.”
Aug. 25 -- at Grove City Christian
Aug. 28 -- vs. Harvest Prep
Aug. 30 -- at Village Academy
*Sept. 4 -- at DeSales
Sept. 6 -- vs. Delaware Christian
*Sept. 11 -- vs. Hartley
Sept. 15 -- vs. Marion Pleasant
Sept. 18 -- vs. West Jefferson
Sept. 19 -- vs. London
Sept. 22 -- at Franklin Heights
*Sept. 25 -- at Watterson
Sept. 27 -- at Williamsport Westfall
*Oct. 2 -- vs. St. Charles
Oct. 4 -- at Fairbanks
Oct. 8 -- at Walnut Ridge
Oct. 11 -- vs. Millersport
Aug. 18 -- vs. Fairfield Christian
Aug. 22 -- at Hamilton Township
Aug. 23 -- vs. Teays Valley
Aug. 25 -- vs. Franklin Heights
*Aug. 28 -- vs. Watterson
*Aug. 30 -- vs. DeSales
Sept. 1 -- Heath Invitational
*Sept. 4 -- vs. Hartley
*Sept. 6 -- at Columbus School for Girls
Sept. 8 -- vs. Worthington Christian
Sept. 11 -- vs. Grove City
*Sept. 13 -- at Watterson
*Sept. 18 -- at DeSales
*Sept. 20 -- at Hartley
Sept. 22 -- vs. Frankfort Adena
*Sept. 25 -- vs. CSG
Sept. 27 -- at Marion Pleasant
Oct. 1 -- at Galion Northmor
Oct. 3 -- at Utica
Oct. 8 -- at Bexley
Below are the coming schedules for the Ready boys golf, girls golf, girls soccer and girls tennis teams:
Aug. 28 -- Grandview at National Road
Aug. 28 -- OCC B at Indian Springs
Aug. 27 -- At Fisher Catholic
Aug. 30 -- Home vs. London
Aug. 27 -- At Teays Valley
*Aug. 28 -- Home vs. DeSales
Aug. 30 -- At Grandview