As it headed into its Week 7 matchup Oct. 11 against Harvest Prep, the Ready football team found itself among a pack of 10 teams in Division V, Region 19 that were 3-3.
In other words, every game is vital if the Silver Knights want to have any chance at playing beyond Week 10.
On Friday, Oct. 18, Ready will have a big opportunity to boost any potential playoff hopes when it plays at Whitehall, a Division II program that was 3-3 before playing Bexley on Oct. 11.
Last season's matchup between the teams was dominated by the Rams, who won 49-14. Whitehall, however, has endured some ups and downs this fall, losing to Columbus Academy 38-24 on Sept. 20 before responding with a 60-13 win Sept. 27 over Grandview.
Ready is getting closer to full strength in terms of its health. Senior running back Jack Foley returned for a 35-14 loss to Columbus Academy on Oct. 3 after missing the previous three games.
"We'll get back to work," coach Joel Cutler said. "That's what good teams, good programs, do. You learn from these kinds of situations. We still have (three weeks) of football to play. A lot of our goals and expectations are still in front of us, and you fix these issues by working. We just have to go back to the drawing board and execute."
Stopping Whitehall's running game will be essential for the Knights, who allowed 181 yards rushing to Academy. The Rams' Juvaun Blackshear had 158 yards rushing and Christian Gordon added 112 yards as their team finished with 390 yards on the ground in a 20-14 win over Liberty Union on Oct. 4.
Senior linemen Thomas Stiltner and Jacob Robinson, junior linebackers Cole Matthews and Jacob Metz and junior defensive back Aiden Aiello have been among the top players for the Knights' defense.
The return of Foley provides hope for the offense going forward.
After rushing for 1,640 yards last season, Foley had rushed for 351 yards and one touchdown on 63 carries in three games before Ready faced Harvest Prep.
Junior quarterback Darius Parham helped fill the void by rushing for 156 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-14 win Sept. 20 over Liberty Union and 139 yards and two scores in a 28-21 victory Sept. 27 over Buckeye Valley. Against Academy, he was held to 55 yards rushing on 18 carries and 44 yards passing.
"It was great to have Jack back (against Academy)," Cutler said. "He's a great kid, a great player. We were excited to get him back going with the team and he'll only get better as he moves forward."
Tennis team more than doubles win total
With nine players rotating throughout its lineup, the girls tennis team went 7-8 to more than double its win total from last fall when it finished 3-10.
"I was very pleased with our depth this year," coach Dan Skuce said. "We're also gaining experience, which allows us to work on more advanced drills and strategies. Overall, this makes the girls more competitive."
On Oct. 3 in a Division II sectional at Columbus School for Girls, the doubles team of senior Lindsay Dickerson and junior Jenna Ruth and the doubles team of juniors Iveth Saucedo and Mary Tokar lost in second-round matches.
In singles, freshman Kayla Thomas lost to Worthington Christian's Lily Rettstatt 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 in a first-round match. Senior Emily Mathew and sophomore Victoria Foust also lost in the first round.
Thomas, who went 2-3 at first singles and 4-3 at second singles, received second-team all-CCL honors. Dickerson was first-team all-league and also won six matches.
The other senior was Julianne Pece, who went 3-3 while playing doubles.
Ruth and Tokar won six matches and Saucedo won five.
Junior Claire Nagy, who saw action in doubles, is another eligible to return.
"I'm very happy with Thomas and her freshman year, especially as she usually was playing an upperclassmen (at first or second singles)," Skuce said. "Our seniors will definitely be missed, but we're returning a group of what will be fourth-year players, as well as Thomas and Foust, who should continue to get better during the offseason. I'm very excited to see how these players develop."
Entire girls golf team set to return
The girls golf team is eligible to return its entire roster next season, including junior Clarissa Bachelder after she qualified for the Division II district tournament.
On Sept. 23 in a sectional at Blacklick Woods, Bachelder shot 92 to tie for seventh and earn one of three individual qualifying berths to district.
At district Sept. 30 at Darby Creek, Bachelder shot 101 to place 27th.
Ready was sixth at sectional with a 482 and closed its season by shooting 497 in the CCL postseason tournament Oct. 5 at NorthStar to finish behind DeSales (350), Watterson (377) and Hartley (395). The Knights finished 0-6 in league play.
Sophomores Lema Ahmed, Abby Parisi and Mattie Wiethe also competed at sectional. Others in the program included junior Gabrielle Phillips, sophomore Nora Hackman and freshman Leah Kaufman.
"(Bachelder) put in a lot of work between last year and this year," coach Kyle Garrett said. "(The sectional) was only the second 18-hole round Mattie has played in and she did really well. She had a few pars, which was huge. We've come a long way."
Below are the coming schedules for the Ready cross country, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 19 – Division II, district 1 meet at Hilliard Darby. The top three teams and top 12 individuals advance to regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North.
Oct. 17 – At fifth-seeded Amanda-Clearcreek in first round of Division III district tournament. Winner plays host to 23rd-seeded Madison Plains in second round Oct. 21. Ready is seeded 22nd.
Oct. 14 – Home vs. ninth-seeded Fisher Catholic in first round of Division III district tournament. Winner plays at top-seeded Grandview in second round Oct. 19. Ready is seeded eighth.
Oct. 15 – At second-seeded Cardington in first round of Division III district tournament. Winner plays 14th-seeded Marion Elgin in second round Oct. 19 at home of better seed. Ready is seeded 15th.