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High School Football

Football Preview: Loaded Ravenwood squad hungers for shot at state title

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Talent, experience, chemistry, hunger. 

Ravenwood High School’s football team checks off all the boxes.

Coming off a highly memorable 11-3 season that included a trip to the Class 6A state semifinals, the Raptors enter the 2019 campaign with all the essential ingredients. The team returns a host of prominent playmakers on offense, including three-year starter Brian Garcia at quarterback and essentially the entire defensive unit, including 6A Defensive Player of the Year Bryan Rice.

Throw in the fact that the Ravenwood roster also now includes Reggie Grimes II — a five-star recruit who is the top prospect in the state —  and it becomes clear that Ravenwood is a legitimate contender for the state title.

“There’s a lot of momentum within the program,” said third-year head coach Matt Daniels. “The kids who are seniors this year, they’ve played a big part in building that momentum. They went undefeated as freshmen, and then they joined the varsity and saw a lot of playing time at the varsity level as sophomores. So, it’s been a building process for them, and now they feel like there is only one thing left for them to do in terms of finishing the job.” 

The Raptors almost completed that mission last year when they made a deep run in the postseason before falling to Whitehaven in the semifinals. 

“It was a good experience for our team, especially our juniors, to be that close to it and to see that little bit of extra that it takes to win it all,” Daniels said.

Garcia, a mobile quarterback with a big arm, will be the centerpiece for the Ravenwood offense. Garcia set single-season school records in passing yards and touchdowns last season. 

Running back Tony Rice (who rushed for more 1,100 yards last season) and wide receiver Andrew Mason are two of the most dangerous players in the region, and Ravenwood’s offensive line, including Duke signee Graham Barton, returns almost completely intact from last year. 

As for the addition of Grimes to the Ravenwood roster, it was actually a 2-for-1 deal.

Not only did the Raptors get a player who is considered among the state’s best, but they also added a top-notch coach to their staff, former NFL player Reggie Grimes, the father of Reggie Grimes II. Grimes joins the Ravenwood staff after coaching at Mt. Juliet. 

“Coach Grimes is a phenomenal defensive coach,” Daniels said. “He has a high standard, he’s aggressive and competitive and he’s brought an edge to our defensive group. As for (Grimes, the player), he’s been terrific. He’s been a great teammate, and he sets an amazing example on how to work hard.”

Other prominent returnees on the Raptors’ talent-dotted roster include Jake Briningstool, Shane Craig, Luke Shouse, Myles Dawson, Junior Colson, Avery Miller, Jordan Smith, Pwen Davis, Ben Severance and Garrett Moorman, along with offensive lineman Gabe Sleenhof and Trent Holloway. 

The Raptors’ offseason featured one strange twist, when rumors began swirling that Ravenwood would be getting a handful of players from the Memphis area. Daniels, however, said there was never anything to it. 

“I tried to tell everyone — look, the head coach is usually the one who knows what is going on, and I haven’t heard a thing about this,” Daniels said. “It seemed like a bunch of nothing to me, and sure enough, that’s what it ended up being. But it was a good lesson for our kids in terms of learning to block out (any outside noise). I was proud of them for how they handled that.”

This story and photos are included in the 2019 Williamson Herald High School Football Media Guide! Pick up your copy for stories like this, full schedules, predictions and more!

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