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Playoffs mean business as usual at Ravenwood

Will Hester has led Ravenwood to a 9-1 season and a home opening playoff game as the 2-seeded Raptors host 7-seed Cane Ridge Friday night.
Ravenwood has missed the playoffs the last three seasons, meaning no one on this roster has been to the playoffs as a Raptor. Hester, in his first year at the school, says they approach this week just like any other game.
“We don’t change anything,” Hester said. “We just go through our normal routine of same practice times and schedules it has been. The only thing that’s kind of messed us up is daylight savings time and losing that hour. We’ve been doing our (weight) lifts after instead of before. Other than that it’s business as usual.”
This team has won more games this season (9) than the previous three years combined (8). And these players are ready for their playoff debut.
 “Obviously it’s win or go home,” Hester said. “The energy level has been good. Everybody seems focused and ready to go.”
Ravenwood’s opponent, Cane Ridge, is as hot as any team in the mid-state. After dropping its first four games, the Ravens have won six in a row to earn the playoff bid. Scoring output for Cane Ridge jumped from 16 points per game in losses to over 38 points per game in the last six wins. 
The offense is led by a dynamic running back, Nick Fuqua, who has rushed for over 1,700 yards and 15 scores. Fuqua is the main focus for the Raptor defense.
“We’ve just got to get eleven hats to the ball and get him on the ground,” Hester said of Fuqua. “There’s really nothing else you can do other than play really good, sound gap control defense and get as many people (to the ball) as you can.”
Another dynamic in the Raven offense is wide receiver Darren Pendergrass. When most opponents have been focused on stopping Fuqua, Pendergrass has been able to beat defenses over the top. 
“He’s made some big plays all year so you’ve always got to play the run and then the threat of the home run,” Hester said. “The run game is their strength and the home run is right there with that as a strength so we have to play that. I don’t know if they’ll be able to pick us apart underneath but they can definitely throw it over our head.”
The high flying Raptor offense is clicking at the right time after putting up 54 points last  week versus Summit. Quarterback Avery Jankowski threw for 1,922 yards and 21 touchdowns in the regular season. His main two targets are junior Van Jefferson who had 71 grabs for 1,097 yards and 14 scores and senior Austin Percy with 33 catches, 517 yards and four scores of his own. 
Cane Ridge can’t just focus on the Raptor’s air attack. The Rowland running back duo has been just as effective on the ground. Seth and Chris Rowland have combined for 810 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. 

Posted on: 11/7/2013


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