The 2008 season couldn’t have gotten off to a much stranger start for
Columbus Bishop Ready. The Silver Knights had not one, but two teams
cancel on them back-to-back, creating a bit of an odd predicament. This year the schedule includes teams from five states and Canada. The one constant – football.
Columbus Bishop Ready (8-3)
* Players to Watch – QB Brennan McCarty (5-9, 155, Sr.), DL Lucas Detty (6-0, 235, Sr.), TE Dana Detassio (6-2, 215, Sr.), OL Pete Galentine (6-4, 275, Sr.), TB Demetrius Clark (6-0, 175, Jr.), ILB Eddie Bahen (6-0, 185, Sr.), DB/WR Jeremy Finchum (6-4, 180, Sr.), DB Cody Culbertson (5-6, 165, Sr.), DB Christian Knapper (jr.)
* Outlook – The 2008 season couldn’t have gotten off to a much stranger start for Columbus Bishop Ready. The Silver Knights had not one, but two teams cancel on them back-to-back, creating a bit of an odd predicament.
“We had two teams — one from New York, one from Kentucky — that simply said they just didn’t think they could play us,” head coach Larry Wolf said. “After they signed a contract to do so, they just thought we were too good. I could have assured them we weren’t, but they obviously didn’t want to hear that, so they canceled. So we ended up with a three-week layoff, basically. We had two canceled games in three weeks, and it was really kind of tough on our kids. Then we came right back and had to play Jonathan Alder right after that three-week layoff, and it was tough. I think we had seven turnovers in the game and ended up losing 21-9 or something like that.”
Despite the rough outing against Jonathan Alder, the Knights found a way to use the unexpected time off to their advantage.
“The three-week layoff was actually a turning point for our season because we really got some midseason corrections taken care of,” Wolf said. “Normally when you’re going week to week, you don’t have an opportunity, but we knew we had three weeks, and we fixed some things in a hurry that we could see were going to be problems after the first three games. It actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise.”
Calling that three-week period “time off” might be misleading though. Wolf made sure things were all business for the team during that time, and then some.
“I’d never experienced it in 33 years as coaching, so we literally were doing it as we were doing it,” Wolf said. “What I decided was I made a technical decision that we’re going to take a three-a-day mentality for the first week or so, and we’re going to make it kind of miserable for our kids so they don’t whine about not having games. They’ll really start looking forward to having games again because we’re going make these practices for this first week absolutely brutal. I don’t mean hitting-wise, I mean intensity-wise — we’re going to be after them for every little mistake, we’re going to be all over them. I told my coaches I don’t want any mistake to go unquestioned, and I want it to be vocal and all over them because I wanted them to make us the bad guys instead of (saying) ‘Oh, we lost some games and woe is me.’ I didn’t want them to have any time to feel sorry for themselves.
“I was hoping they’d fall into a ‘being defensive’ mode, and they did. They rallied the troops and they pulled together, and they said ‘It’s us against the coaches.’ About midway in the second week, we kind of started backing off a little bit, and then the third week we were in game mode, so it worked out great for us. I wouldn’t want to do it again though. I’m sure the kids would agree with that. That first week was pretty nasty.”
The team was definitely able to rebound from the unexpected turn of events and have another strong season, advancing to the regional finals for the second consecutive year.
“We really got on a roll late in the season. The run for us really started against Bishop Hartley. That was a game we knew we had to win to get into the playoffs, and we weren’t sure we were going to make it. We came out on a miserable, muddy night and just — there’s no way we could play Hartley and beat them 52-6 ever again for any reason, but we did that night. It was just one of those strange occurrences, and we got some mojo from that.
“Then we ended up drawing a team we had beaten last year in the playoffs (Johnstown-Monroe), and that was about the worst possible draw we could have. Now you have to go on the road and play team we already upset the year before and they were not real happy with us to begin with. We had to go to their place, and we played very, very well, except in our special teams, and we won that game. Then we got to play the No. 1 seed on a neutral site (17-0 win over Portsmouth West). Then we just kind of ran out of gas (against Baltimore Liberty Union in the regional finals). We played our worst football in about eight weeks in the last game.”
This year’s team will have playoff aspirations once again, but Wolf is very concerned about the team’s overall depth.
“We’re very thin,” Wolf said. “What I mean by that is we have good, quality kids, but we are one-deep everywhere. Across the board, we are one-deep everywhere, and it’s really kind of frightening. It means our young kids are going to have to step up. Now our freshmen didn’t win a game last year and our JV had a losing record, so we’ve got some kids that are down in the pipeline that are going to have to step up in a hurry because if we get knicked up — and obviously everybody in football gets knicked up — some of these second-level kids are going to have to play for us, and they’re going to have to play well. If they do, we’ll have a chance. If they don’t, we’re going to lose the game. It’s a scary proposition; this is probably as thin as we’ve been in about seven or eight years.
“I think we’re going to be good, but I don’t know that we can stay good unless (the young kids step up). If we stay healthy, we’ll be pretty good, but that’s probably not going to happen, so it depends on who gets hurt and who’s going to replace them.”
The Knights return five starters on each side of the ball, led by senior Brennan McCarty at quarterback.
“On defense, we return two defensive linemen and three defensive backs,” Wolf said. “No linebackers. On offense, we return two offensive linemen, a wide receiver, a tight end, and a quarterback. So there aren’t very many returners back, but we do have a lot of kids who we have penciled in right now who because of our success last year got some good quality playing time in the playoffs. They were kids that weren’t really starters, but they were very good backups for us and got a chance to play in playoff games.”
McCarty in particular is expected to have a strong year after passing for 1,300 yards in 2008.
“We’re looking for big things out of him,” Wolf said. “Last year, he just made fantastic decisions. I think there were only three games he threw interceptions in last year.”
Another area of strength for the Knights will be the overall presence of the senior class, while a particular area of concern could be the special teams, where Bishop Ready lost some key contributors.
“I think we’ve got a fantastic senior class in terms of leadership,” Wolf said. “They’re just tremendous leaders, and they have a willingness to do whatever it is they have to do to get whatever it is they want to get.
“Probably the biggest area where we’re going to be deficient compared to where we’ve been is in the kicking game. We lose a four-time All-Ohio kicker in Mike Morgan.”
Bishop Ready’s road to another playoff berth will be a major challenge. Among the competition for the Knights includes a road game at Saginaw (Mich.) Nouvel Central Catholic, a state champion in 2007 and a state runner-up in 2008.
“We play Lima Central Catholic in Lima,” Wolf said. “We’re going to go up to Saginaw, Michigan to play a catholic school. We’re going to go down to Covington, Kentucky and play a catholic school. We’re going to play West Jefferson. It’s going to be a pretty challenging schedule.”
The Knights also face another obstacle in the fact that they were moved from Region 19 to 20, which is filled with several heavy hitters.
“Region 20 is now three major cities (Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus),” Wolf said. “That’s pretty significant. It’ll make it a lot tougher to get in.”
8/29 @ Immaculate Conception (Illinois) (Elmhurst)
9/4 @ LAKEWOOD (HEBRON)
9/11 WEST JEFFERSON (West Jefferson)
9/18 Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School (Ajax, Ontario)
9/25 Holy Cross (Kentucky) (Covington)
10/2 United Academy Club Football (Pennsylvania) (Pittsburgh)
10/9 @ LIMA CENTRAL CATHOLIC (LIMA)
10/24 @ Nouvel Catholic Central (Michigan) (Saginaw)
10/30 BISHOP HARTLEY (COLUMBUS)