Football: Ravenwood opens in rivalry tilt against Cougars

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Ravenwood vs. Centennial football

The last six football games between Williamson County rivals Ravenwood and Centennial have been decided by a touchdown or less. The two clash again Friday in Week 1.

 

Rainy football games at Ravenwood have become a bit of the norm, but the 40 percent chance of precipitation for Friday night’s season opener against Centennial might be the only damper to an otherwise juicy Region 6-6A matchup between the Williamson County rivals. 

The Raptors, bolstered by a huge group of returners from last year’s state semifinal run plus several new faces, will finally get a shot to prove the hype surrounding the team. 

“Ravenwood is a very good team,” Centennial coach Matt Kriesky said of the season-opening test against the region favorites. “When you look at teams, especially on film, you try to find a weakness, but I didn’t find anything. 

“There’s so many things you have to stop against them. It’s going to be a tough task Friday night.” 

The last six meetings between the rivals have been decided by a touchdown or less. Last year on the other side of Interstate 65 in Franklin, the Raptors rallied to take a 35-28 win and stop a two-game slide against the Cougars. Centennial won 26-23 in overtime the season before. 

“You know, we are 2-3 against Centennial since 2014, so that adds a little more fuel for our guys,” Ravenwood coach Matt Daniels said. “The boys have been anticipating this for a long time … Friday is finally almost here and I think we are just ready to go and what better way than facing a region rival to get going.” 

Daniels will again turn to third-year starter Brian Garcia at quarterback to lead the charge. The shifty senior set school records for passing yards and passing touchdowns in 2018 throwing for 2,675 yards with 33 TDs. He threw two fourth-quarter strikes to guide the comeback last year against the Cougars. 

That late play continued as the Raptors had a tendency to show up in the second half last season. 

“Last year was an exciting game and we had to come back on the road, but we’d like a better start,” Daniels said. “We seemed to be a second half team last year.” 

Garcia has Andrew Mason and Jake Briningstool among his top targets, while handing off to running back Tony Rice, who rushed for more than 1,100 yards last season, is always an option. Duke signee Graham Barton leads an offensive line that returns almost completely intact. 

Defensively, Bryan Rice – the returning region defensive MVP – will have plenty of help in the likes of Reggie Grimes II, who transferred from Mt. Juliet this summer and is considered the top football recruit in the state. 

“Garcia, (Reggie) Grimes, there’s just so many guys you have to stop and account for,” Kriesky said. 

The schemer Kriesky had another challenge tossed his way when senior quarterback Grayson Marcel aggravated an ankle injury against his twin brother’s Riverdale team two weeks ago in a scrimmage. Marcel, who stands 6-foot-4, missed four games last season because the ankle. 

Kriesky said sophomore Cannon Plowman will be called in under center if Marcel can’t go. 

“Plowman has experience for us as well and we have 100 percent confidence in him,” Kriesky said, adding that Desmond Smith will likely be the Cougar workhorse, akin to graduated senior Jariel Wilson from the last few seasons at Centennial. 

“The summer can be long when you’re banging on each other all June and July, but it’s finally game week no matter what,” Kriesky said. “The one thing you can count on is it being a great Williamson County football atmosphere Friday.”

Kickoff at Ravenwood is scheduled for 7 p.m.

2019 Williamson Herald High School Football Media Guide

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