By SAM McGAW
Game of the Week Preview – Presented by Extreme Escape Games
Ravenwood (1-0) at Brentwood (0-1), 7 p.m. Friday
After nearly upsetting defending Class 5A state champion Independence last week, the Brentwood Bruins get their shot at taking down defending Class 6A champion Ravenwood at home Friday.
The Bruins, who are coming off a 21-20 loss against Independence, refuse to be satisfied with just keeping this game close.
“It’s a loss; you’re 0-1,” Brentwood head coach Ron Crawford said. “It doesn’t matter. Any excuse you want to make…it doesn’t matter. We’re 0-1, Ravenwood’s 1-0. That’s the way it is.”
Ravenwood came from behind to defeat Siegel 23-19 last Thursday.
Quarterback McCain Marrow led the comeback with two touchdown passes to wide receivers Nate Freeman and Anthony Holmes in the fourth quarter.
“I thought he did a great job keeping his poise in the first half when things weren’t going well,” Crawford said. “He continued to battle and made some plays down the stretch. I’m impressed with their whole team effort in the fourth quarter.”
Marrow finished with 422 yards through the air.
“Even though he had 422, there’s a lot of lessons there; we could’ve been even better,” Ravenwood head coach Richie Wessman said. “That’s really how we work it. We just keep looking at how we can be better and the best we can be in all phases and every snap of the game. And that’s where our focus is.”
Ravenwood has won the Battle of the Woods three straight years, but Brentwood still holds an 8-7 lead in the rivalry series.
“I know this thing has been played for about 12 years, and it’s pretty much even,” Crawford said. “It’s a fun time for our students, our fans and our community, so I hope we compete really hard Friday night.”
Raptors’ Offense vs. Bruins’ Defense
Marrow looks to build on his recent success against a Brentwood defense that allowed 300 passing yards last week.
“These games are always close and a lot of fun,” Marrow said. “We can’t let any of the stuff get in our heads this week about the big rivalry. We just need to go out there and play ball like we do.”
Marrow’s top weapons are senior wide receivers Freeman, John Rall and Seth Smeltz.
Freeman and Rall racked up 125 receiving yards apiece against Siegel, while Smeltz had 95 yards.
“They have a lot of speed,” Brentwood linebacker Will Stanworth said.
“We can’t give up on plays and make as many mistakes as we did last year, last week, even. We can’t take any plays off.”
Bruins’ Offense vs. Raptors’ Defense
Brentwood’s offense features a host of playmakers that can beat defenses through the air and on the ground.
Quarterback Carson Shacklett is a threat in both facets of the game.
In his starting debut last week, the junior passed for 148 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for a team-high 101 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
With talented weapons already at wide receiver and running back, Shacklett’s dual-threat ability has the potential to make the Bruins difficult to prepare for.
“They do a good job of mixing it up,” Wessman said. “They run the ball; their quarterback is pretty athletic. He can throw a bit, too. He’s a pretty good football player.”
Ravenwood’s secondary will be tested against the height and speed of Brentwood’s receiving corps.
Christian LaBreche and Parker Bullion provide the size at 6-foot-6 and 6-4, respectively, while Will Leone is the home run hitter with a career average of 19 yards per catch.
LaBreche led the Bruins last week with five catches for 75 yards and one touchdown. Bullion added four catches for 43 yards and Leone had two grabs for 15 yards and a score.
“Our o-line and our offense came together last week, so I give all of the credit to them,” Shacklett said.”We had some big plays by Christian LaBreche — the guy’s a monster –, Parker Bullion and Will Leone. We’re together as a team, so I account all of that success to them.”
Running back Collin Rudolph adds another element to the Bruins’ attack. He rushed for 82 yards on 20 carries last week.
“We have to start a little bit faster,” Shacklett said. “If we can just come out with our spread attack, throw the ball around, run the ball hard and move the chains, I think we’ll be alright on offense.”