For our first preseason review we’re going to take a look at the Ravenna Ravens.
The Ravens are a team of tradition and passion. When you think of the Portage Trail Conference a team like Ravenna is exactly the team you think of. When you think of great sports rivalries, almost none can compare to the rivalry between the Ravenna Ravens and the Kent Roosevelt Rough Riders.
One problem Ravenna has had over the past few years is being able to get over the hump of a .500 record. Now we know that they indeed have been over .500 the past few years. The 2012-2013 season they were able to notch a 7-5 (4-2) record. The 2013-2014 season saw a dramatic drop in the quality of play by the Ravens. They finished that season at a disappointing 2-8 (2-4) record. Then we come to last season. The Ravens did make a significant leap from the year before, but was only really able to get to the status they had in 2012, ending the year at 6-4. What really stood out was their division play, (5-1), which propelled them forward. If they had been able to notch a few more wins outside the division we could’ve seen the Ravenna Ravens that fans have been waiting for, for some time now.
That is what we’re looking for this year, growth. We saw growth from the 2013 season to the 2014 season, now they just need to keep it up.
One area of concern for Ravenna has been, simply put, a lack of skill. Unlike a school like Mogadore, that manufactures football players like a factory, Ravenna doesn’t have the natural size or skill of those players. What Ravenna has instead is heart a lot of heart and determination. What they have to do now is use that passion, and their brains, and figure out a way to consistently string together wins against tough opponents such as Kent, Woodridge, and Streetsboro.
Now it’s time to take a look at several quick points we discussed with Coach Lunardi that we’ll be watching for this year with the Ravens, in a segment we like to call our Pregame Huddle:
Coach Lunardi talked with enthusiasm about his offense for the upcoming year, stating that they will focus on more of a running attack. He seemed energetic about the idea of a solid running game, which will compliment Senior QB Derek Cross nicely, and hinted about play action schemes that they would try to use based off their running attack.
Speaking of Derek Cross: Coach Lunardi spoke very highly of his Quarterback, saying “He started half way through his Sophomore year, and has grown ever since. He’s smart, has good arm strength, and is a great decision maker!” I don’t know about all the other Ravens fans out there, but talk like that certainly makes me intrigued to see just what Cross has in store for us this year.
Coach also talked about his defensive strategies, saying that his team is going to try to keep the opposing offenses on their toes.
“We’re going with a 3-5 defense. I hope we can keep our opponents guessing.” Coach said “We’ll be bringing zone pressures based on offensive tendencies.”
Last, but not least, Coach Lunardi talked about key players this year.
“We return our entire offensive line, but had to replace some skill position players. I would say our offensive line is our strength, with a few contributing skill players behind it.” That is certainly music to Quarterback Derek Cross’ ears. You can have all the position players in the world, but if you play behind a bad offensive line things can quickly turn into a nightmare for any Quarterback or Running Back.
One last player to watch for this year is Senior FB/DL Willie Ross. Coach talked highly of his lead blocker, and of his future. Ross has had offers from every school in the MAC, which is a big accomplishment in itself, but the interest didn’t stop there. Ross has also received calls from the University of Wisconsin, and has gone for two visits at their request. I know that pains Ohio State fans to hear one of their own may be facing them someday, but at the same time it is an amazing accomplishment for Ross. Coach Lunardi said to watch out for him this year as he will be playing for not just the Ravens, but also is playing his way into a spot on a college team.
We are excited to see what the Ravens have in store for fans this year, and optimistic about that outcome for the team at the end of the year. I believe the Ravens will take another step forward this year and will go 7-3.