Football: Ready getting ready to battle Barons
With the majority of its key players from last season returning, the Ready football team was hoping to pick up where it left off after winning its final two games a year ago.
The Silver Knights opened Aug. 28 against Liberty Union, which they defeated 35-14 last season.
Ready will face another team it beat last fall when it plays Friday, Sept. 4, at Buckeye Valley as part of a six-game regular-season schedule filled solely with MSL-Ohio Division programs.
"We finished pretty strong last year, taking Harvest Prep to overtime (in a 21-15 loss), and we finished with wins over Bexley (35-14) and Grandview (27-14) at the end so we were pretty driven to get better," said coach Joel Cutler, whose team finished 5-5.
"They've held each other accountable. Now that some of the standards are set, the seniors are leading the charge, which will usually bode well for team discipline."
While Liberty Union went 0-10 last season, Buckeye Valley is coming off a 1-9 finish and opened Aug. 28 at defending league champion Harvest Prep.
The Barons earned their only win last season when they beat Liberty Union 49-25 in Week 9, but they also stayed with Division VI playoff qualifier Grandview before losing 14-3 a week before that and battled Whitehall before falling 40-30 in their season finale.
In Ready's 28-21 win over Buckeye Valley last season, quarterback Darius Parham threw for 109 yards and one touchdown and rushed for 139 yards and two scores on 17 carries. Running backs Brian Fitzsimmons and JeJuan McGowan added 88 and 74 yards rushing, respectively.
Parham and McGowan are seniors and Fitzsimmons is a sophomore in an offense that also includes seniors Tyrese Hudson and P.J. Daniels at wide receiver and senior Cole Matthews at tight end.
Senior Anthony Hughes, who threw for one touchdown for Buckeye Valley in last year's game, returns at quarterback and also is a starter in the secondary.
Senior Andre Ash, a 6-foot, 222-pound three-year starter who previously was a slot receiver, is expected to carry much of the load at running back along with senior Will Weinberg and junior Jake Smothers.
The Barons have three players with size up front in seniors Zane Skinner (6-1, 305) and Keegan Allen (6-1, 300) and junior Mason Hatcher (6-4, 275).
Ready counters defensively with Matthews and senior Jacob Metz at linebacker and senior Aiden Aiello, Hudson and Parham in the secondary.
"(To play this season has) been a blessing," Cutler said. "I can't say enough about our seniors and how they're leading right now."
READY at BUCKEYE VALLEY
*When: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4
*Last meeting: 2019, Ready 28-21
*Ready to date: Played Liberty Union on Aug. 28
*Buckeye Valley to date: Played Harvest Prep on Aug. 28
*Top Silver Knights: Aiden Aiello (DB/WR), Cael Dent (OL/DL), Brian Fitzsimmons (RB), Tyrese Hudson (WR/DB), Cole Matthews (TE/LB), Jacob Metz (LB), JeJuan McGowan (WR/DB) and Darius Parham (QB/DB)
*Top Barons: Keegan Allen (OL/DL), Andre Ash (RB/WR/LB), Alex Contreras (WR/DB/P), Dalton Dodds (WR/DB), Fletcher Holquist (OL/DL/LB), Anthony Hughes (QB/DB), Carson Vaulx (LB) and Will Weinberg (TE/LB)