Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — When Lane Ruby touches the football, you simply give him your undivided attention.
Southeastern’s quarterback has always been special. In the first three years of his career, he led the Panthers to their first-ever playoff win, two postseason berths and an outright SVC title.
But this past fall, Ruby was the best he’s ever been … and that’s saying something, considering his decorated resume. The senior signal caller was the catalyst of a Southeastern team that finished 11-1, earned the school’s second-ever Gold Ball, and won a second playoff game.
Individually, he was lethal with his legs, rushing for 2,310 yards and 35 touchdowns. He also passed for 734 and five more scores while tallying 79 tackles and four interceptions on defense.
Because of that ridiculous stat line, and the way he led the Panthers in big-time games, Ruby has been selected as SOSA’s Co-Player of the Year … sharing the honor with Waverly’s Payton Shoemaker and adding to his Division VI District Player of the Year and impending All-Ohio honors.
“I can put this year into one word … blessed,” Ruby said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better senior season. All the glory goes to God. Our senior class has always been close. There’s not much we don’t do together on or off the field. We’re always together.”
If you were around Southeastern’s locker room this season, you may have heard the terms “brotherhood” and “family.”
On the field, they fought for their brother. Off the field, they were one big family. Ruby was the undenied leader of the group, basking in the limelight after each week’s win.
But if you’d ask him about his year individually, he’d credit his work ethic as well as his teammates, coaches and trainers who put him in the position to obtain the successes he earned.
“I worked hard in the offseason and during the season,” Ruby said. “I was up at 6 a.m. along with [teammates] Dalton [Thurston] and Tanner [Chenault] working out. Every Tuesday during the season, I was up at 530 a.m., working out at AP Prep. It showed [on the field]. I’m very thankful for all the people who pushed me to my limits and beyond.”
The Panthers’ ended their season with a 36-20 loss to Covington in a Division VI, Region 24 Semifinal, quite possibly finalizing the greatest football career in school history.
In the past four years, with Ruby under center, Southeastern had the best four-year run it’s ever had — and by a large margin. The Panthers were 35-10, have won two of the past three SVC crowns, and are now sitting on three consecutive playoff appearances … after owning just two before.
At the center of that storm is Ruby, who rushed for a school record 5,163 yards and 72 touchdowns while passing for 2,959 yards and 29 additional trips to the end zone. His defensive statistics are also impressive as he’s totaled 185 tackles, 11 interceptions and 36 pass break-ups.
Simply put, Ruby changed the culture of Southeastern’s football program.
While he still hasn’t decided where football may take him, Ruby does have some future plans laid out.
He’s been invited to play in the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl on Jan. 4 in Tampa, Fla. — an event that features two rosters are made up of 110 athletes that were chosen from a pool of over 6,750 across the nation.
From there, he’ll make a decision.
As for now, one thing is for sure; Ruby’s legacy is concrete as a Panther … even if he doesn’t realize it.
“I will never know what legacy I leave at Southeastern,” Ruby said. “Only the people that have watched me grow through high school will know. I just hope it’s a good one.”