By Joe Williams, Sports Editor
Van Jefferson (2) gets an escort from Ryan Geltch (56) towards another big passing gain for Ravenwood. The junior receiver is a threat anywhere on the field, one Centennial must contain in the district match-up tomorrow night.
Photo by Rebecca Smeltzer
Expect the birds to fly and the cats to run when Ravenwood (4-1, 1-0) visits Centennial (4-2, 2-0) tomorrow night with at least a share of the lead in District 11-AAA on the line.
The Raptors enter the contest with a passing game that is envied by many schools. Transfer Van Jefferson, who came to the school when his father joined the Tennessee Titans staff, has snagged 36 passes for 554 yards in his first five games, scoring nine times.
Austin Percy (14 receptions, 190 yards) is another of 11 different targets that quarterback Avery Jankowski has found in competition.
Jankowski has been a bit of a surprise to those outside the Ravenwood circle. The senior signal caller has completed two-thirds of his passes (68-of-101) for 907 yards and eleven touchdowns, while gaining another 124 on the ground.
Centennial counters with a powerful ground game, using an experienced offensive line to open holes for the county’s leading rusher, Deon Sanders.
Sanders, a big, punishing back, is averaging nearly 190 yards a game (1,123 yards on 166 carries), accounting for more than 50 percent of the Cougars’ total offense.
The Raptors cannot afford to key on Sanders alone in the ground, though.
B.J. Griffin has become a factor in the last two games, including Centennial’s 38-24 win over Mount Juliet last Friday night when he carried eight times for 95 yards and a touchdown, several times out of a wildcat set.
“B.J. has his best game of the year,” said Brian Rector, Centennial’s head coach. “B.J. sees things phenomenally well. I’m really proud of B.J.”
Despite the obvious success in opposite aspects of the game, neither team is one-dimensional.
New Ravenwood coach Will Hester does not hesitate to call on a pair of brothers to pick up hard yardage on the ground.
Junior Seth Rowland (54 carries, 213 yards) has picked up just a few more yards than his younger brother, sophomore Chris Rowland (42 carries, 208 yards), but both are dependable, hard-nosed runners.
Centennial has started to find a passing game.
The Cougars boast two of the best receivers in the state in senior Bailey Wisniowski and junior Emanuel Hall. The pair racked up big numbers last year before J.J. Tomlin graduated.
With a fresh, raw quarterback in Owen Roth winning a three-way battle for the spot, the pair has not been targeted as much, but continues to be a threat.
Roth has become a very steady hand as a field general, throwing for 561 yards (49-of-82, 7 TD’s). More importantly, according to Rector, Roth has learned to, “…manage the game.”
An interesting sidebar to the contest is that it pits three former Ravenwood head coaches against the Raptors.
Rector led Ravenwood to a state title and another championship appearance before leaving for college coaching, later taking over the Centennial program.
On his staff are two former Raptor head coaches, Tom Shuman and Joe Rietveld.
While interesting to outsiders, Rector is more concerned with the present.
“They are a very good football team clearly and we will obviously have our hands full.”
Posted on: 10/3/2013