Ridgewood coming off historic run; How do Generals follow that?


Ridgewood Football

Everything came together for Ridgewood last
season. The Generals put together a 10-0 regular season, knocked
off three tough opponents in Region 19 and made the Final Four before falling to Youngstown Ursuline. What do they do for an encore?

West Lafayette Ridgewood
Division V
Region 19

2009 Record: 13-1

* Players To Watch: OLB/RB Nick Bellick (5-9, 160, sr.), DE/TE Evan Jones (6-6, 225, jr.), RB/LB Richard Hawthorne (6-2, 175, sr.), RB Jake Ziegler (5-10, 180, sr.), OT Donald Mullet (6-2, 240, sr.)

* Outlook –
 Everything came together for the West Lafayette Ridgewood Generals last season. The Generals put together a 10-0 regular season, then knocked off three tough opponents in Region 19 before falling in the state semifinals to Youngstown Ursuline.

“We thought we could be pretty good,” head coach John Slusser said. “We replaced a lot of guys last year, but we replaced them with real quality kids. We knew we were going to be extremely fast coming back. We had a really nice group of kids that bought into the program and worked really hard, and it paid off.”

A big key in the success of the 2009 team was the team’s will to win. Slusser hopes to see that continue in 2010. 

“Last year’s group was so driven,” Slusser said. “They practiced everyday full-speed. They were very goal-oriented. They came to work everyday and punched to clock. Some of our teams in the past, they didn’t always practice everyday like they were playing for championships. That group we had last year, they did that.”

This year’s squad brings back another solid group of players as eleven starters return overall.

“Once again, and I think this goes for everybody that has pretty good programs, we lost a lot of really good people but we feel like we’ve got a lot of good ones coming back,” Slusser said. “Our senior class is not as big as it’s been in the past; there’s only 11 or 12 of them right now. But of those 11 or 12 guys, most of them are starters for us or are going to be players for us.”

Seven of those starters will be back on defense, where the Generals expect to be strong. 

“We really like the defensive side of the ball,” Slusser said. “We return seven guys that started there and eight guys that played a lot on that side of the ball, so we really think we’re going to be pretty good on that side. Offensively, we feel we’ve got a lot of talent back, but they’re going to be new ones.”

* Schedule –
Schedule-wise, Slusser isn’t sure what to expect out of the non-conference opponents but expects the conference slate to be challenging. 

“We picked up Buckeye Trail; they struggled last year, so we don’t know what they’ll have coming back,” Slusser said. “We play Steubenville Catholic in Week 2; we picked them up last year and thought there was a state run in them, a long run in the playoffs, but they struggled. They lost a lot, so I don’t know where they’re going to be. Then we play Riverview Week 3, and they’ve been struggling.

“The league schedule, it’ll be strong again.”

8/27/2010    at Lore City Buckeye Trail (D-V)
9/3/2010      Steubenville Catholic Central (D-VI)
9/10/2010    at Warsaw River View (D-III)
9/17/2010    New Philadelphia Tuscarawas Central Catholic (D-VI)
9/24/2010    at Malvern (D-VI)
10/1/2010    Magnolia Sandy Valley (D-IV)
10/9/2010    at Bowerston Conotton Valley (D-VI)
10/15/2010  Sugarcreek Garaway (D-V)
10/22/2010  at Strasburg Strasburg-Franklin (D-VI)
10/29/2010  Newcomerstown (D-V)

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