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Ravenwood opens with 24-0 shutout over Cougars

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Ravenwood opens with 24-0 shutout over Cougars | Ravenwood High School, Raptors, football, sports, brentwood tn news

Ravenwood quarterback, Keegan Leyrer, takes a breather during a break in the play. Photo by Alexa Goss

RB Johnson reinjures shoulder
By CAROL STUART
For Brentwood Home Page
Ravenwood's defense allowed zero points in a Week 0 opener, and the Raptors got a district win under their belts by defeating Centennial 24-0 on the road Friday night.

Three different RHS defenders intercepted Cougars' quarterbacks T.J. Leach and Cord Collier, and the Raptors almost picked off at least two other passes. Senior Andrew Cash also made a touchdown-saving tackle on a 93-yard pass play that helped preserve the shutout.

"I told the kids that that's why you should never give up on a play," said second-year head coach Tom Shuman. "That wasn't his responsibility, that wasn't his coverage. . . . Andrew Cash is on the back side, and he runs the dad-gum guy down. It didn't make that much difference in the game, but it makes a difference from a pride perspective.

" ... That tells the head coach a lot about his team because they're not going to give up, they're not going to give in."

The only real downer on opening night was a second-quarter injury to starting running back Alec Johnson, a senior who re-injured an AC joint to his shoulder. Several players including Johnson were hurt in the preseason for the team, plagued by injuries in last year's 5-5 season.

After a half-time break, players storm the field ready to finish the game led by #62, William Cunningham; #47, Drew Dorsey; #76, Christopher Vasquez; #73, Kyle Bolstad.

Johnson missed the preseason after suffering a Level 1 separation of his AC joint, and thinks this might be a level 2 or 3. "I had to come out, it popped out of place and I popped it back in," he said.

He will be re-evaluated Saturday, but could miss 3-4 weeks or longer, Shuman said. The team has a stable of running backs, and Tanner Withrow is back from injury next week.

"That's a shame. It's his season year, he's waited behind another guy for three years to get up there in varsity, and he was playing real well," Shuman said.

Johnson scored the first touchdown and had 65 yards on 12 carries in less than two quarters.

New quarterback starts strong
Senior quarterback Keegan Leyrer, making his first start, had 44 yards on 10 carries including a TD and threw for 71 yards on 6 of 11 passing.

"Keegan managed the game excellently, and his passing percentage was what you expect," Shuman said. "He missed a couple of throws and he took a sack down here when we were in the red zone, and I don't like that, but those are things you might get out of any high school high school player. And thinking about how that was his first varsity start, and how he went out there and led the team, executed the offense and stayed under control, and didn't get rattled."

Senior Ryan Bednar returned his interception to the 2 and almost got into the end zone, setting up the Raptors' final score on junior Conley Jolly's 2-yard TD at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

"We got those picks, and I've been telling people all along that I thought our secondary was going to be very good," the RHS coach said. "We've got those fast, big, rangy back there, and if we can force people into throwing the ball on us then they're going to have problems. Because we can rush the passer and we can defense back there. ... People better be able to run the ball on us."

There was plenty of fan fare, from the marching band to fans with chests painted, in the first game of the season. But the game clock never worked at Centennial's field, and the referees and players also kept the flags flying in the first game of the season.

RHS was hit for a penalty on strict sideline enforcement, and Shuman was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct when he questioned a personal foul. Ravenwood rolled up 123 lost yards on 12 penalties; Centennial lost 75 yards on 10 flags.

The team takes a knee and listens to Coach Shuman as he reflects on their 24-0 victory over the Centennial High School Cougars.  (#60, Will Richardson; #19, Harry Taylor; #40, Anthony Jones)

But Shuman and Centennial Coach Mark Mata arranged the game for opening week after they played in Week 8 last year. That game was played  "in the rain in fall break with about 50 people in the stands, when he was 1-9 and we were 3-and-something."

"It's puts a lot of the line in the first game, and that's what we need is a test right out of the chute ... We have to win league games when we can because it's not an easy league."

14 points in second quarter
Johnson scored the first touchdown with a 4-yard run at just under 10 minutes to cap off an 11-play drive that started at the RHS 37. Johnson had back-to-back carries for 11 and 14 yards to move the ball inside the 15.

Ravenwood almost lost the ball on an interception by Leyrer after moving the ball to the 9, but Centennial was called for roughing the passer.

The Raptors defense then held CHS to 3-and-out, and the RHS offense took advantage of good field position to score five plays later. Following Johnson's 19-yard gain -- and injury -- Leyrer scored on a 7-yard keeper 6:36 before halftime to make it 14-0.

Defense cashes in
Junior lineman Anthony Jones swatted down and almost had his hands on a pick-6 on the next series. Senior Riley Stoner dropped a possible pick on a fourth-down pass at the end of that drive, but Ravenwood actually got better position when the ball went over on downs.

In the third quarter, Centennial stalled behind backup quarterback Collier, but got the ball back on a punt when a penalty was called against the Raptors punt return team. Shuman was then hit with the unsportsmanlike call. But the Ravenwood defense stuffed Victory Sawyers on the next carry, and the Cougars had to recover fumbles on the next two plays to give the ball back.

Leyrer then led the offense on a 15-play drive that ended with a Michael Giangreco 37-yard field goal and a 17-0 lead at 2:33 in the third quarter. Lehrer had a 15-yard keeper, a 27-yard rollout toss to Bednar and a 5-yard gain on a fourth-down QB sneak, but was sacked on third down.  

Bednar's interception and long return down the right side came on the next Centennial series. Bednar also made a big hit on a keeper by Collier late in the fourth quarter, and junior Adam Byrd intercepted on the ensuing play.

Centennial a good chunk of its passing yardage on one play -- a 93-yard catch and run by sophomore Dusty Lee from Collier before Cash tracked him down at the 2. The Cougars were backed up on their 5 after a penalty on the kickoff return and a sack by Jones.

But the Cougars couldn't cash in, racking up two straight flags, a sack by junior Alex Blackburn, another penalty after getting back to the 1, and a failed fourth down.

"We played hard and played together and that's what we preach all the time," Shuman said. "Back in January I started getting an inkling these guys were going to do that, but you never know how they're going to hold together when they get up underneath a little bit of adversity.

"We never had a lot of that tonight, but they did respond when we had to, when we got into the goal-line situation down there when the defense stepped up. We were able to capitalize on their mistakes, and they had quite a few of them. This being their first game, they got a little bit discombobulated.

Centennial came out of the gate with a first down on the game's first play from scrimmage and got the ball back after the first punt hit a Ravenwood player.

But sophomore Damien Hattan got the team's first interception after Ravenwood's D-line pressured Leach.

On the Raptors' first drive, Leyrer completed his first pass, 32 yards to Cash. But Leyrer was sacked on second down, there was no-gain on a third-down pass, and RHS missed a field goal attempt wide left.

RHS also was just short on 49-yard attempt just before halftime by kickoff specialist Thomas Dawson. Giangreco, a goalie on the soccer team, hit all three PATs. 

Photos by Alexa Goss for BHP

The stands become a sea of red and black as Raptor fans pile in to watch the game.
RHS Varsity football players taking in the field and the play at hand.
RHS Cheerleaders are firing up the crowd with their favorite cheer, "rowdy".

Ben Rankin, Dalton DeLuca, Ben Baker, Clark Vicary, Tyler Stewart, Frank Kennedy, Chadwick O'Shields, Brad Clark are Ravenwood students painted up and armed with flags, ready for a victory.

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