Evidence is mounting that the matchup Friday, Sept. 11, at Fortress Obetz between the host Ready football team and Columbus Academy could be a defensive showcase.
The Silver Knights are 1-1 but have given up just 13 points and limited Buckeye Valley to 68 yards on 29 rushes during a 20-6 victory Sept. 4.
Meanwhile, the Vikings accomplished the rare feat of holding Harvest Prep to fewer than 300 total yards during a 20-10 victory the same night.
Academy improved to 2-0 with the win over the Warriors, who had a 38-game MSL winning streak snapped and were held to their third-lowest point total since Milan Smith took over as coach in 2014.
If the game does end up being low-scoring, it won’t resemble the three most recent matchups between the programs.
After Academy beat Ready 31-0 in 2017, the Knights returned the favor with a 56-42 victory in 2018 before the Vikings won last year’s meeting 35-14.
“Ready is always scary because they’re just so well-coached,” Academy coach Robin Miller said. “Coach (Joel) Cutler does an incredible job getting them ready. They also have some really talented kids up front.”
Cutler has similar praise for the Vikings, who are coming off a 7-4 finish that included a Division V playoff appearance.
Both teams are expected to be in Division V during the coming playoffs.
“Coach Miller has done a heck of a job,” Cutler said. “They continue to do great things. They’re very sound in all three phases and return a lot of skill on both sides of the ball. We’re going to have to play well and be very attentive on special teams.”
Against Harvest Prep, Academy lineman Gyvnn Mendenhall had 10 tackles, including three for loss, linebacker Parker Logan had 5.5 tackles and four tackles for loss, linebacker Chris Sugar had a fumble recovery and defensive back Jake Carlin added an interception.
They’ll be tasked with slowing down a Ready rushing attack led by running backs Tyrese Hudson and Brian Fitzsimmons and quarterback Darius Parham.
Hudson had 84 yards and one touchdown on 18 carries, Fitzsimmons rushed for 43 yards and Parham threw for 38 yards, including a touchdown to Cole Matthews, and rushed for 73 yards against Buckeye Valley.
“Parham is like a running back in the backfield who can also throw,” Miller said. “We beat them last year, so there’s always an added element.”
Against Harvest Prep, Academy quarterback Brady Hess completed 11 of 16 passes for 78 yards, with Sam Huyghe having six catches for 57 yards, Carter James rushing for 39 yards and Durell Moultrie and Drake Bellisari each running in for a score.
The Vikings took a 14-8 lead against Harvest Prep on an 8-yard run by Moultrie late in the first half and got field goals of 21 and 34 yards by Jonah Huston to stretch the lead to 20-8.
“It was an ugly win, but it was a win,” Miller said.
Evan O’Connell also made a field goal against Buckeye Valley for the Knights, who got key contributions from defensive backs J’Sun Gardner with two interceptions and Sage Tilley with another.
“For us, we’ve got to continuously clean things up, but defensively we’ve gotten six turnovers in two weeks, so I’m really proud of how we’ve handled things,” Cutler said.