STORY BY CORY WOODROOF | PHOTOS BY DEB SCALLY
Well, if you’re going to call your shot, you might as well make it.
Adorned over the visitor’s bleachers at Brentwood High School’s James C. Parker Stadium were banners that indicated the Ravenwood High School fans came for one thing and one thing only: revenge.
And it was just that that the Raptors players, coaches and fans walked away with after the Bruins got the best of them at their house back in September. It’s what this rivalry is all about (at least on the field); settling scores, and winning ball games.
The Raptors outscored Brentwood 40-10 in three quarters after Brentwood got out to an early 14-7 lead to walk away with a commanding 47-24 victory. The win advances the Raptors on in the 6A playoffs to a semifinals bout with Whitehaven, while Brentwood caps their 10-3 season with a loss to the archrival.
“We had the fire in us,” receiver Anthony Holmes said of the team coming out after the half. “We had a little slow start, but we executed. That’s what we knew we needed to do, and after that, it was game over.”
Indeed, it was a first quarter largely to forget for both teams, with fumbles aplenty (five in total). It wasn’t until Brentwood’s sophomore phenom and quarterback Cade Granzow led the team on a 99-yard drive and quick scramble score to get a 7-0 lead with about two minutes to the second quarter.
Though, just before the quarter change, a Brentwood fumble (after a Ravenwood fumble) set the Raptors and running back Tony Rice in for a bounty. Rice ran 65 yards down to the red zone and finished things out with a touchdown to tie the game before the second.
A few minutes into the second, the versatile Carter McKechnie ran it out from the 23 to give Brentwood a 14-7 lead. It would be their last advantage of the night. Holmes hauled in his first touchdown of the night from junior quarterback Brian Garcia to get it to 14 all with five minutes and change to half.
Momentum smashed to the Raptors’ favor when Granzow threw a pick to Shane Craig, setting Ravenwood up for a Luke Akers field goal and a 17-14 lead going into half.
“I think you get that on a cold night, in a rivalry game, people are nervous and maybe too amped up,” Ravenwood head coach Matt Daniels said of the sloppy start, though he was encouraged with the lead.”We felt good going into the half.”
Just 30 seconds into the second half, Ravenwood put down the score that seemed to spark the explosion, a trick hook-and-ladder straight from the pros that sent Andrew Mason to the end zone to get the Raptors up 24-14.
“When that hit, I knew that it was meant to be,” Daniels said of nailing the smoke-and-mirrors score.
“We repped it earlier this week, and they loved it. It was some fun. Hook-and-ladders, I think, are starting to catch on in the NFL. We saw some teams do it last week. It just felt like the right time to call it, and the boys executed it perfectly, which is always fun to see.”
Brentwood botched a punt deep into their own end zone to give Ravenwood a safety and a 26-14 lead to make matters worse a drive later.
A big Brentwood stop and response drive sent Granzow in for his second touchdown of the night and a close 26-21 game with 6:22 to go in the third.
Well, that would be the end of the close quarters, with Ravenwood’s William Baine pounding in a 12-yard touchdown to get Ravenwood up 33-21. The Raptors would never look back from then on.
Holmes got another touchdown (tying the school record for touchdowns in a season), as did Baine, furthering the lead. Granzow left the game early with an injury, and senior quarterback Dylan Stevens did enough to get a field goal drive in the fourth. But, it would be for naught.
As much as the home team hated to see it, things ended with a flood of happy Raptors rushing the field and a Ravenwood advancement. They’ll play Whitehaven on the road next Friday in the Class 6A semifinals that will decide who goes to Cookeville to take on the winner of Oakland/Maryville.
The schools have seen each other in the semis before (the teams met in 2014 and 2015 in the semifinal round), making this a reunion worth watching.
“I’m new to the Ravenwood/Whitehaven rivalry,” Daniels said. “Actually, it runs pretty deep…there’s a little bit of recent history there. I know last year, they had a tough game with Cane Ridge, a clos game…looking at that recent history, we feel good. We were able to match up well against Cane Ridge this year. I think they’ll be a similar team.
“If we execute, and we just continue this ride that we’re on, I think we can play with anybody in the state. I think our boys are feeling that confidence right now.”
Holmes ties Ravenwood record for touchdowns
Holmes tied the school’s touchdown record for scores in a season with 12 during the game, a mark that puts him tied with school great and current Florida Gator Van Jefferson.
“Being in comparison with a name like Van Jefferson, you know, that’s not a small name around here,” Holmes said. “It’s humbling to me, and I’m very grateful for my teammates and my family around me that just help me get to this point.”