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Resurgent Raptors exit with loss to Blackman

Blackman scored 20 points in the first 6:30 of the game and never gave Ravenwood an opportunity to rally Friday night, as the Blaze cruised to a 47-14 victory in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs.
The Blaze (10-2) will advance to face District 7-AAA rival Oakland next week in the quarterfinals, while Ravenwood ends its season at 10-2.
“I didn’t expect this out of our season,” senior offensive lineman Ryan O’Leary said. “I thought it was going to be a huge fight for a winning record. But we had miracles on this team, and our defense pulled through when we needed their support.”
“They came out and punched us in the mouth, and we uncharacteristically turned the ball over,” Ravenwood coach Will Hester said. “That’s been our saving grace all year is how we cause turnovers and didn’t turn the ball over.
“It’s difficult to win any game when you don’t win the turnover margin.”
The Raptors had to play much of the game without starting quarterback Avery Jankowski, who left the game in the first quarter after experiencing “concussion-like symptoms,” Hester said, following two rough sacks by the Blackman defense.
“It wasn’t a situation where we had to hold him out, he just wasn’t able to go,” Hester said.
The Ravenwood pair of Andrew Rappe’ and Ryan Smeltzer filled in for Jankowski at QB, but the Raptors were not able to develop any kind of consistency thanks to a stifling Blackman defense that collected four interceptions and four sacks of Raptor QBs.
“It was us not executing at times and great plays by them at times,” Hester said. “It was just one of those nights, and we’ve been able to overcome our mistakes (earlier this year). We just came up against a team that was too good to make those mistakes against.”
Blackman led 27-0 after the first quarter, getting touchdowns from Cole Notgrass, Charlie Davidson (twice) and Styles Corder. Davidson finished with three rushing TDs and 109 yards, while Notgrass had two TDs and 114 yards on the ground. As a team, the Blaze rushed for 385 yards.
The lead was 40-0 at the half, and the Blaze made it 47-0 after Ravenwood’s opening drive of the third quarter was thwarted by an interception. Blackman drove 84 yards in just eight plays to score, with Chase Murphy capping off the scoring for Blackman with his 2-yard TD run.
Ravenwood’s points came late in the fourth TD runs by Daniel Fountain and Seth Rowland. The Raptors were held to just 63 yards on the ground.
After just eight wins in the last three seasons, to finish 10-2 is a great accomplishment for Ravenwood, O’Leary said. The Raptors won the District 11-AAA championship by going unbeaten in league play; something the program has done only one other time.
“We started with a fresh slate, and we had to show (the coaches) what we had,” O’Leary said. “This season has been the best.”
Hopefully the foundation has been laid to continue growing and improving in the future, Hester said.
“They have a lot of things to hold their heads high about,” he said. “I’m the third coach these seniors have had. For them to be able to battle back and win a district championship and have a 10-2 record, it speaks volumes for them.
“It’s up to the juniors and sophomores to lay another brick in the foundation, and we can’t live off this past year. A lot of these players will graduate, and someone has to replace them. The effort they give and character they show will determine whether we continue moving forward or take a step back.” 

Posted on: 11/15/2013


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