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Ridge’s Baker to lead Rams

August 22, 2013
By ZACH HUMPHRIES - Tribune Chronicle correspondent ( , Underthelights

MINERAL RIDGE - Mineral Ridge quarterback Jonathan Baker threw for 1,212 yards, rushed for 203 and played in 10 games on defense a season ago for the Rams as a junior.

Baker's numbers were masked by running back Devine Redding's big season. Redding, who has since transferred to Glenville Academy, rushed for 1,100 yards and 17 touchdowns last year. While Redding is gone, Baker is back in orange and black to try and build on a 6-4 season.

"We still have some good backs back there," Baker said. "Our line has been working extra hard and they look tough."

The Rams will have some newcomers, but size-wise, they fit the bill. One of the running backs who should see more action is senior Josh Goss. Goss is a power back who runs hard downhill.

"He's been working really hard this year and we're going to use him a lot more than we did last year," Baker said.

Nate Palmer, who had been the leader in receptions for the past two seasons for Mineral Ridge, will not play in his senior year. However, some other receivers have really stepped up to be prime targets for Baker.

"Oh yeah, we have a lot more weapons this year," Baker said. "Ethan Dukes and Tracy Cross have really stepped up this year and Cory Phillips stepped up last year and he's back."

First year coach Doug Velasquez couldn't be more pleased with his veteran quarterback.

"He's got a great grasp of the offense. He's just so smooth in everything he does," Velasquez said. "He's got a great understanding of the position. He's got a lot of experience and our younger quarterbacks are learning from him every day."

Baker also will lead the defensive backfield at safety - a quarterback of the defense if you will.

"He plays quarterback so he just understands the game," Velasquez said. "What he knows being a quarterback he carries it over to the defensive side. He always is making sure guys are lined up correctly and in position."

Baker said his quarterback experience is what makes him a better defender.

"Being a quarterback, I try to think where they want to go with the ball," Baker said. "Being a quarterback helps you see as a defender how a quarterback is trying to let you off."

Baker has had the luxury of beating the Rams' backyard rival, McDonald, for the past three seasons. He has the chance to go 4-0 versus the Blue Devils in his career when the Rams take on the Blue Devils in Week 6 this year.

"That'd be a lot of fun, but we're just worried about our first game this year," Baker said. "We want to take it game by game and see how it goes.

"I mean that truly is though on my to-do list this year."

While beating their rival is on his senior year bucket list, Baker said it's about the team as a whole, not one person.

"We just want to play and win as a team," Baker said. "We're trying to get rid of everybody being so selfish and just play together. Josh Goss and I try to remind people all the time, 'It's not about them, it's about us.' "


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