Columbus Ready must replace 17 starters, play seven road games
On paper, Columbus Ready appeared to have its hands full heading into 2009. In addition to losing 17 starters, the Knights faced a rugged schedule. Coming into 2010, Ready appears to have another stiff challenge on its hands. Another 17 starters need replaced, and that schedule? It's just as tough.
Columbus Bishop Ready
* Outlook – On paper, Columbus Bishop Ready appeared to have their hands full coming into last season. In addition to losing 17 starters, the Knights faced a rugged schedule that included opponents from Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Michigan as well as yearly in-state powers West Jefferson and Lima Central Catholic.
However, the Knights were able to fight through that schedule and put together another playoff season.
“I think it was a surprisingly good year, not because I thought our talent was bad but because I thought our competition level was probably about as tough as we’ve had,” head coach Larry Wolf said. “I thought with our schedule we had a chance to be 5-4, maybe 6-3 if we got lucky. We got real lucky and won a couple games that I don’t want to say we shouldn’t have won, but we just made big plays and pulled them out when we had to pull them out. That doesn’t happen very often, so instead of 6-3 we go 8-1. It was a very pleasant surprise."
The credit goes to a hard-fighting group of players that had strong leadership.
“Our kids literally competed for 48 minutes a game,” Wolf said. “We were in some real donnybrooks, some real nasty kind of games. We won a game with 20 seconds to go, we won another game with three minutes to go – pulled them out of the fire. Once you do that, you get this kind of vicarious courage that you can do it all the time. We kind of got a little swagger going, and that’s good.”
Coming into the 2010 season, Bishop Ready appears to have another strong challenge on their hands as 17 starters are gone once again. The Knights return two offensive linemen, a running back, two cornerbacks – and that’s it. More importantly, this year’s seniors will need to develop some of the leadership that last year’s group showed.
“I hope they didn’t forget how we won those games (last season),” Wolf said. “We stayed with our program, we did the things we were supposed to do, but we had great, great, great senior leadership last year. We had kids that just didn’t understand how to lose, and they consequently figured out a way to win. This year it’ll be a little bit different because those juniors have followed those seniors for three years, and I’m not sure they picked up the skills that they need, like the leadership skills.
“We’re going to struggle to find those kinds of leaders this year simply because they didn’t have to demonstrate that in the past. That’s going to be a big problem for us – we’re going to have to have some seniors really step up.”
An even bigger problem for Bishop Ready might be the quarterback position. The Knights suffered a major blow due to injury that has left the team scrambling for a signal caller.
“Probably the single-most important thing we’re going to need to do is find a quarterback,” Wolf said. “Our backup quarterback, the kid that we thought would be our quarterback this coming year, had a career-ending shoulder injury, so he’s done. We really don’t have a quarterback in the program right now, and that’s going to be a problem.”
In other areas of the offense, Wolf sees promise. One area is running back, where 1,000-yard rusher Demetrius Clark returns.
“Demetrius Clark may be one of the better running backs in Ohio this year,” Wolf said. “He rushed for almost 1,200 yards last year, and he only carried the ball about 14 times a game. So he averaged almost 9 yards per carry.”
Up front, Bishop Ready lost three starters, but Wolf still expects to put together a solid line.
“We only return two linemen – a 171-pound tackle believe it or not and a 185-pount center – but I think we can mix some JV kids in there from last year’s team and I think they’ll do fine.
“Bishop Ready will always have tough kids,” Wolf said. “We could take running backs and put them down the line, and we can at least get things done. We may not be dominant up there, but I’ve got enough kids that’ll fight you that we can find linemen."
Wolf also thinks that the team will have good speed and good receivers, but the effectiveness of the offense will still fall on what happens at quarterback.
“I think we’ll have good skill kids on the perimeter… I just don’t know if we’re going to have the delivery system to get them the ball,” Wolf said. “If we don’t, it’ll be real difficult on our linemen because then we’re going to have to run the ball a bunch instead of mix it in… The strength is going to be Demetrius. He’s going to have to carry load.
“If we can find a quarterback, I think we’ll have the chance to be very good again. But if we don’t, all hands on deck here because it could get real ugly.”
“The teams that want to play us are the people who can beat us,” Wolf said. “We don’t have a league, so we’re trapped by our schedule.”