By Sam McGaw
Ravenwood at Siegel, 7 p.m. Thursday
The Ravenwood Raptors were one of the last teams in Tennessee to complete their season last year. This week, they’ll be one of the first to begin their 2016 campaign.
Ravenwood takes its first step towards defending its Class 6A state title Thursday when it travels to Murfreesboro to battle the Siegel Stars.
While this will be the first varsity start for most of his players, Ravenwood first-year head coach Richie Wessman is confident they’re ready to carry the torch.
“We’ve worked hard to prepare and make sure we’re ready to win a football game,” he said. “We continue to be better today than we were yesterday, and we continue to get better each and every day. Are we where we want to be? No, but not many teams really are entering Week 1.”
Senior McCain Marrow takes the reins as the starting quarterback after battling Blake Van Landingham for the job throughout fall camp.
Marrow started a couple of games last season. He finished the year with 240 passing yards, 109 rushing yards, five touchdowns (2 run) and three interceptions.
Some of his top weapons include running back Carter Nelson (379 rush yds, 5 TDs in 2015) and wide receivers Nate Freeman (22 rec., 383 yds, 1 TD in 2015) and John Rall.
The biggest challenge for the Raptors will be dealing with Siegel’s speed on defense.
“For us, it’s a matter of making sure we know where we need to be and doing it with an attitude and a demeanor,” Wessman stated. “They’re going to fly around and play fast and try to stop the run on defense. We look forward to that challenge.”
The physicality and discipline of Ravenwood’s defense will be put to the test against Siegel’s up-tempo, spread-option attack.
“They like to get tricky and run the triple-option,” Wessman said. “They’re a much stronger team running the ball than they are throwing, so they’re definitely going to try to pound the rock.”
With Siegel using so much misdirection and movement in the backfield, the Raptors can’t afford to get out of place.
“It’s all about assignments,” Wessman said. “If you stick to your assignment and everyone does what they’re supposed to do, then everything will be fine. We’re going to go after the football, too, and make sure we get that a couple of times.”