LISBON, OHIO (WKBN) – The Lisbon Blue Devils must travel two and a half hours to play the Plymouth Big Reds in the first round of the OHSAA Division VII – Region 25 playoffs this Friday night. And even though their 1-5 record would make them an underdog to the 3-3 Big Reds, the Devils have one player that has shown how his dynamic and talented abilities will give the Devils a shot at the upset.
Blue Devils senior Ryan McCullough has displayed his multiple talents and abilities this season in leading the Devils in several offensive categories. He is one of the leading scorers in the Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference with 11 touchdowns on the year.
But it’s the variety of ways he has scored those touchdowns that really makes him a special player. He has scored four touchdowns rushing the ball with 200 yards on the ground. He also has 6 scores receiving on 400 yards through the air. In addition, he added one touchdown on special teams with a punt return.
“He runs, he catches, he punts for us, he returns kicks and punts. Division VII football program, we’re just trying to put kids in positions to make plays,” Lisbon coach Matt Altomare said. “Ryan isn’t the kind of kid that is going to carry the ball on an inside belly 35-40 times a game like some kids in our league, but we need to give him his touches because good things can happen every time he touches the ball.”
“It really all comes from the offense, all the guys we have in our skill positions and our line. Our quarterback (Tyler Welsh) is smart, he knows the game and studies the game and he makes great decisions on the field. Our receiving corps is great, they run sharp routes and block. And our line does it all. They work hard,” Ryan praised his teammates for helping achieve his lofty offensive stats.
On top of all those offensive numbers, he is also a standout cornerback for the Blue Devils. Ryan has recorded 19 tackles, 18 of them solo, and leads the team with three interceptions on the season.
Ryan came into the season at 5’8, 155 pounds, so it is his speed and good hands that have made him such a valuable asset to the Devils offense as a wingback, tailback, and slot receiver. This being his senior season, he also has varsity experience to help him know the right position he needs to be in on every play.
“Ryan does a great job of knowing where to be and making something out of nothing sometimes too. That’s what we are trying to preach on offense,” Altomare stated.
On top of his athletic abilities, he is also a team captain and a vocal leader of the Blue Devils team. With some nagging injuries last season, this senior season has added importance to Ryan.
“He is vocal, and you can tell right away what this senior season means to him,” Altomare explained. “A lot of the seniors are like that. Not knowing if we were going to have a season or not, and not knowing if their parents were going to be able to see them play. There were just a lot of things left up in the air. So you can tell this season just means more.”
“This season is very important,” Ryan stated. “Not just me, but for all the seniors. In the last two years, we have had negative seasons. We just want to bounce back and prove that we have what it takes.”
Altomare went on to describe the many attributes of Ryan, “He is a great kid. He’s always trying. He is a competitor, and that’s one of the things I love the most about Ryan. He is a competitor, and he does not want to lose one snap or one play. He is good to have.”
Ryan is the youngest son of Annie and Matt McCullough, with his older brother being a standout player for the Devils back in 2016. Bailey McCullough was the starting center on the Blue Devils 2016 team that won an ITCL Blue Tier title and finished the regular season 9-1. They would lose a hard-fought game to St Thomas Aquinas that year 21-18 in the playoffs.
Right now Ryan is undecided about his future plans. He knows he is going to attend college but is unsure where that will be, although he plans on majoring in business.
With Ryan’s leadership and talents, the Blue Devils hope to shock the region with a successful playoff run. They also have scheduled some post-playoff games that will give Ryan and his senior players a chance to shine in their last season wearing a Blue Devils jersey.