Adding to the excitement surrounding Tuesday night’s Battle of the Woods between the Brentwood and Ravenwood basketball teams was the presence of St. Louis Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan and Tennessee Titans safety Michael Griffin in the stands.
Finnegan, a Titan from 2006 through 2011, was inspired to attend while himself playing basketball in the high school’s gym.
“They kept hyping it up,” Finnegan said following the game. “The guys I play basketball in Brentwood with, actually at this high school, they told me what a rivalry it was. I love Nashville, and just a chance to come see everyone again (was great).”
In the closing seconds of halftime, chants of “We want Cortland” from the Ravenwood student section drew the former Titan to sprint across court to be with the high schoolers. Brentwood quickly responded with “We want Griffin”, drawing the current Titan to the Bruins’ side.
Both would remain with the students for the remainder of the game, even joining in traditional student section chants at each other. At one point, Griffin was presented with a large cardboard cutout of Finnegan’s head, which he was seen still holding after the contest.
“It’s a cool feeling to still be loved in Nashville,” said Finnegan. “I love these people.”
The NFL players only added to what is always an extraordinary atmosphere for a high school basketball game. Once again, it was standing room only from midway through the third quarter of the girls contest.
Brentwood coach Dennis King reminded his players how special it is to be part of such a great rivalry.
“I told these guys, do you know how lucky you are to go to a high school that can generate the electricity of a rivalry game like this,” he said. “They’re just so lucky to be able to have this.”
Ravenwood’s Patrick Whitlock echoed the sentiment.
“You really can’t beat it,” the Raptors coach said. “I haven’t seen anything like it in Middle Tennessee and we probably won't. It’ll probably continue to be this way. I mean, it’s a Tuesday night and we’ve got people here until 9:30 p.m.”
Tuesday was Finnegan’s first Battle of the Woods, but wont be his last. He promised he and Griffin would return for the Feb. 7 contest at Ravenwood - spending equal time in each student section.