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by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
They spent a number of times on the gridiron during their time at Hudson High School.
But make no mistake about it, senior Jared Ruffing has a message for a certain classmate and former teammate.
"I want to get a ring before Ben Hart does," Ruffing said.
The two Hudson standouts will compete for that precious piece of jewelry for the next four years.
Ruffing recently signed to continue his academic and football careers at the University of Dayton, which competes in the Football Championship Subdivision.
More importantly, the Flyers compete in the Pioneer Conference.
That means Ruffing, who is expected to line up as a wide receiver, is sure to get reacquainted with Hart, a linebacker who signed with Davidson College (NC) earlier in the year.
"I think it would be cool if I caught a pass and scored a touchdown on him," Ruffing said. "He told me he wouldn't hesitate to hit me if I came across the middle. He told me he would feel bad if one of his teammates laid me out."
Dayton finished 7-4 overall and 5-3 in the conference last year.
Ruffing is certainly used to playing for winning teams.
The Explorers have reached the Division I state playoffs three years in a row. Hudson finished 10-2 after losing a 28-17 decision to Cleveland St. Ignatius in the second round.
Ruffing, who also considered Robert Morris University (Pittsburgh), Baldwin Wallace (Berea) and Ashland University, plans to major in engineering.
"I liked the class sizes and it was a good fit for me," Ruffing said. "I have friends going there. My roommate is going to be [Hudson senior] Jake Brooks."
Ruffing saw time at running back, wide receiver and cornerback for the Explorers last year.
"Jared has a great chance to be a really good player," Hudson head coach Ron Wright said.
"He has a really good upside and is an excellent student."
A major reason why Ruffing chose Dayton was head coach Rick Chamberlin.
"I loved the head coach," Ruffing said. "He's a really good guy. I also met offensive coordinator Chris Ochs, who has a dry sense of humor."
The 6-foot-2, 203-pound Ruffing certainly appreciated his time at Hudson, which had a 29-7 record over the last three years.
"It was fun splitting time with [former Hudson tailback] Ben [Gedeon]," Ruffing said. "[Hudson quarterback] Mitch [Guadagni] and [Hudson wide receiver] Colton [Whited] pushed me to get better in the off-season."
Ruffing also is a standout for the Hudson Rugby Club Division I boys team.
"I'm better at rugby than football, but I like football more," he said.
Ruffing said his goal is to make the travel team.
"I just want to get on the field," he said. "It doesn't matter if it's special teams. I just want to get into the rotation."
If Ruffing and Hart see other on the field next fall, it could certainly be interesting.
Dayton is scheduled to play Davidson Oct. 4 in North Carolina.