AIKEN, S.C. -- When a team has as many high expectations placed upon it as the Aiken Hornets do, it would be a coaches dream to have a talented, and experienced quarterback heading the group of hopefuls.
Aiken's Carey Johnson has Corey Ready, who is without a doubt talented, but experience is something the 16-year-old gains each week he steps to the helm for the Hornets.
The 5-11, 182-pound junior has Aiken off to a 3-1 start heading into Friday's Region 3-AAAA opener with undefeated Lexington (4-0), and Johnson couldn't think of anyone better to lead his young team than Ready.
"He's tough, he's an athlete, and he's just someone you want on the field in crunch time," Johnson said. "So far, he's improving each week, and that's all we can ask for. People fail to realize that this is just his sixth start coming up Friday. He's young."
Ready started for the Hornets last year as a sophomore, but broke his left wrist in the second game of the season against Midland Valley. The sophomore came back against Orangeburg-Wilkinson as a defensive back while Garrett Amerine finished the year at quarterback.
With a junior core of returning players from last year's 7-6 team, hopes were high for the Hornets. Ready was back at quarterback, and Aiken would receive a monumental test to open with Sumter, a team they hadn't beaten in seven years.
The Hornets smashed Sumter 54-7 behind the acrobatics of Ready, and his fellow Aiken troops. The junior passed for 118 yards, including a 76-yard touchdown pass to Brian Staley on their second play from scrimmage. He later hit Tim Chandler for a 36-yard score. Ready also punched in a 1-yard td run to go with 72 yards rushing in the convincing victory.
Not bad for a kid, who didn't even think he would be playing this season.
"I didn't think I was going to come back," said Ready, who also broke his left wrist in the seventh grade. "It was the second time so you, know. But I really want to lead this team to a state championship. I think we can do it."
Ready heads into Friday's matchup with the Wildcats on an up tempo note, having gone 6-8 for 182 yards through the air in Aiken's 40-22 win over Easley last Friday . He passed for two touchdowns in the contest, and ran in for two more.
The junior has already completed 15-32 passes for 347 yards with four touchdowns. The navigator is also second on the team in rushing with 182 yards, and has a team-leading four touchdowns on 45 carries.
"That Easley win was a turning point for us because it was our first on the road, and some of our tough region games are on the road," Ready said. "The hardest thing for me this year was getting the team to follow me. I'm younger than most of them, but I look up to some of them too. I think we'll be fine if we can cut down on a lot of the mental mistakes."