The last name of the new Ready High School girls soccer coach might be familiar to west side residents who follow the sport at the prep level.
After growing up in the area, Chris Byrum moved to London for high school – where his father, Andrew Byrum, was the coach – before competing for Cedarville University.
Chris Byrum has been back in the area the last few years, serving as an assistant for the Briggs girls program for one season and then working as the Bruins’ head coach for the past five years. Andrew Byrum also coached at Briggs in the 1990s.
Chris Byrum is the third coach in as many seasons for the Silver Knights, who went 23-29-1 from 2014-16 under Benjamin Au and 3-13 last fall under Bob Piper.
“I want to actually build a program,” Byrum said. “My whole goal was to build character on and off the field. I’m committed. You’re going to get me for four to five years at least. I want to have something that’s sustainable.”
Ready, which had just 11 players in uniform at times last season, opened with a 4-0 loss to Columbus Academy on Aug. 23, tied Fisher Catholic at 2 on Aug. 27 and beat London 2-1 on Aug. 30.
So far Byrum has been encouraged by the talent he’s seen from a program that has just one senior in Erica Saldana (left back) and also features juniors Katelyn Paul (center back) and Lindsey Bair (left midfielder).
Junior Michaela Kopczewski (right back) and sophomores Ava Hurd (midfielder/defender) and Cielo Lopez (forward) also are key returnees.
Sophomore Alyssa Sanders is the new goalkeeper. Juniors Genesis Lopez (forward), Maureen Scott (right midfielder) and Lexie Siemer (midfielder/forward) and freshmen Caroline Buendia (center midfielder), Allison Bair (center midfielder) and Abigail Grundie (forward) are other contributors.
“This program has had success in the past and it’s dropped off,” Byrum said. “We talked about wanting to build the program into what it was with numbers. I have a very strong freshman class so my outlook as a whole is a lot more than when I came in. I’ve started to see more talent and if I can get them to play cohesively, we’ll make some pushes.”
Cross country season gets underway
After Rich Green led the cross country program the past two seasons, Jeff Brown and Rachel Wayne are serving as co-coaches this fall.
Wayne also will be the track and field coach in the spring after Green resigned from that position as well.
In the opener Aug. 25, the girls team finished 19th (483) behind champion Fairfield Union (53) in the Newark Catholic Invitational at Bryn Du Mansion and the boys were 20th (543) behind champion Heath (53).
“We want them to become better runners, become better people and carry themselves the right way,” Brown said. “Most all of our returning kids are going to be pretty competitive kids. Most of them are in it to get a lot better at it. Certainly we want them to trust themselves and push themselves past their comfort zone to where they do get better as runners.”
In the opening meet for the girls team, freshman Addison Whitmer led with a 73rd-place finish (24 minutes, 3.9 seconds) and senior Brigitte Bowman was 85th (24:42.9).
The other seniors are returnees Atemnam Maker and Emily O’Connell and newcomer Jadina Mozzetti.
Also in the program are sophomores Maddie Craddock and Makenna Freeman and freshman Amelia Freeman.
The boys team was led in the opener by senior Evan Cordle (58th, 19:03.7) and senior Grant Cordle (93rd, 19:57.1).
Also competing are seniors Daniel Hamilton, John Pyles and Dominic Tokar and juniors Cameron Jones and Hunter McBrayer.
Football team to face Hartley
Both the Ready and Hartley football teams are 1-1 after putting together strong Week 2 performances.
The Knights and Hawks will meet for the 55th consecutive season Friday, Sept. 7, but it likely will be their last matchup for at least a few years.
Ready will play the other four schools in the CCL on a two-year rotational basis beginning next season when it faces St. Charles.
“(Ready) coach (Brian) Cross is as good of a football coach as we have ever prepared against,” Hawks coach Brad Burchfield said. “In 2013 we were state runners-up (in Division V) and they were state semifinalists (in Division VI). We beat them in overtime (21-14) and I have to think that was one of the best games in the rivalry.
“Through the years there were many similarities between the schools, but times change and schools change. Although I’m disappointed to see such a historic rivalry end, I respect the decisions of all involved.”
Ready beat Hartley 52-6 in 2008 in Burchfield’s first season leading the Hawks, but the Knights have lost the last nine meetings. Last season, Hartley beat Ready 42-10 on its way to an 11-2 record and Division III regional runner-up finish while the Knights went 7-4 and were Division V playoff qualifiers.
Ready opened with a 28-0 loss to Genoa Area on Aug. 24 at Fortress Obetz but bounced back with a 30-23 win at West Jefferson on Aug. 31.
Hartley began its season with a 42-17 loss Aug. 24 at Toledo Central Catholic but dominated defending Division V state champion Wheelersburg 51-20 on Aug. 31 at home.
Cross hopes the Knights develop rivalries with some of the MSL-Ohio Division programs they will be facing later this fall as well as with West Jefferson, a Division V program.
“It’s always good to play a quality program like (Hartley’s), but the games haven’t really been close,” Cross said. “In the second half of games they wear us down and they have put points on the board. They’re going to be good again this year.”
Against West Jefferson, Jack Foley rushed for a 2-yard touchdown with 27 seconds remaining. He finished with 174 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries and quarterback Austin Aiello passed for 238 yards and two scores, with Jaishan Norris and Tyrese Hudson both going over 100 yards receiving.
Linebacker Thomas Stiltner has been leading the defense, according to Cross.
Miles Fleming split time at quarterback for Hartley last season but has assumed the role full time this fall. Against Wheelersburg, he ran for a 50-yard touchdown with 2:41 left to help seal the victory.
Aug. 25 – Newark Catholic Invitational at Bryn Du Mansion
Sept. 8 – McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial
Sept. 22 – Marion & Ruth Gray Invitational at Madison Christian
Sept. 29 – Erin Nance Fall Distance Classic at London Country Club
Oct. 13 – CCL meet at Otterbein
Aug. 23 – at Columbus Academy
Aug. 27 – at Fisher Catholic
Aug. 30 – vs. London
*Sept. 6 – at DeSales
Sept. 11 – at Franklin Heights
*Sept. 13 – vs. Hartley
Sept. 15 – at Hamilton Township
Sept. 17 – at Tree of Life
Sept. 18 – at Briggs
Sept. 22 – vs. Marion Pleasant
Sept. 25 – vs. Cristo Rey
*Sept. 27 – Watterson at Otterbein
Oct. 3 – at Wellington
*Oct. 4 – vs. Columbus School for Girls
Below are the coming schedules for the Ready girls golf, boys soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 6 – OCC B at Westchester
Sept. 6 – Home vs. Delaware Christian
*Sept. 11 – Home vs. Hartley
*Sept. 6 – At Columbus School for Girls
Sept. 8 – Home vs. Worthington Christian
Sept. 11 – Home vs. Grove City