The night could only be described as ugly. Rain poured down, drenching any fan not smart enough to bring an umbrella (Including myself). It was a special night though. The historic rivalry between the Ravenna Ravens (2-1(0-0)) and the Kent Roosevelt Rough Riders (1-2(0-0)) added another chapter. This time it would be the Ravens to come out on top, to the tune of 38-21 over the Rough Riders.
Before we talk about football though, we should certainly mention the other reason this night was special. Today was the memorial of the tragic day, forever burnt into the memories of Americans, 9/11. Fourteen years ago today four planes went down, not only killing the dear passengers but also killing hundreds of other innocent bystanders. Two planes of course struck the World Trade Center towers, another struck the Pentagon, while the fourth came down in Pennsylvania due to the efforts of the heroic passengers.
Every year we are faced with this tragedy. Every year the footage is dragged out. While we certainly do not enjoy watching what took place on that terrible day, we watch the film to honor those that lost their lives. We watch the film to honor the men and women who bravely risked, and even gave, their lives to save others. And, finally, we watch the film to remind us to count our blessings every day, and to always be thankful for the moments we have, because just like back then it could all be taken away in a flash.
The staff at Ravenna High School did well in remembering the tragedy, showing their gratitude by giving thanks to all the brave men and women who risked their lives, and having a touching moment of silence for those that lost their lives. They are to be commended.
Despite all the bad, which we could go on talking about for a long time, a High School football game did take place. And it was an exciting one at that!
Both Coaches shared their thoughts on the historic rivalry and what it means for their team.
“With emotion comes nervousness, with nervousness comes courage. You either have it or you don’t. I believe that some kids know how to channel their emotions and their nerves, and I believe that our kids did that. We have to give credit to Kent though, they fought back all night.” Coach Lunardi said of his Ravenna squad.
“It’s an important game. It’s one that we talk about every year. They know us very well, and we know them very well. All our guys and competitors and friendly rivals, which makes it sting when you come up on the short end.” Coach King said when talking about his squad.
There was no shortage of scoring in this matchup between the Ravens and the Rough Riders. It was clear what the Ravens were planning to do from the get go: Run the ball down Kent’s throat. Not only were they able to have success on the ground, but their offense thrived! The team was lead by Running Back Junior Running Back Tony Lewis who rushed for 112 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns, followed by Full Back Willie Ross who rushed for 100 yards on 12 carries and one touchdown. Lewis, Ross, and even Austin Fox (11 for 50 yards), seemed as if they couldn’t be stopped all night.
It started in the first quarter when Ravenna received the opening kickoff. The team drained almost the entire first quarter clock on their one possession. They wore down the Rough Riders run defense, especially in the interior. The Ravens used a two running back set up, with Lewis and Ross in the backfield together nearly every play, and switched off between the two. Kent struggled to stop the run up front in the first half. The Ravens weren’t getting huge gains early on, but 5 yards here and there, and before the Rough Riders new it the Ravens were punching it into the endzone. With 3:42 left in the first Lewis scored his first touchdown from 6 yards out, putting the Ravens up 7-0 early.
The Rough Riders finally got the ball with just over 3:30 to go in the first quarter, and weren’t able to produce much. Rough Rider Senior Quarterback Christian Mehlmann threw the ball 45 times in the game. He struggled early on, overthrowing several receivers. Mehlmann threw an interception on their first drive when his pass deflected off his receiver, then a defender, finally ending up in the arms of Safety Shaun Roberts.
The Ravens were gathering more and more momentum as time moved on. The got the ball back thanks to their defense and took it right down the field. The Ravens hammered their way into the redzone once again, through their running game, and Lewis was able to score his second touchdown with 18 seconds left in the first quarter. The Ravens got a little greedy after the score and attempted a two point conversion, but missed, making the score 13-0 at the end of the quarter.
The Rough Riders struggled again to move the football at the start of the second. Mehlmann failed to connect with his receivers, and Kent never made and effort to establish the run. Both offenses were very one dimensional.
Ravenna drove down the field again, once again plowing their way into the redzone. The Ravens handed off to Willie Ross, who ran up the middle, and he struck gold. The score was 20-0 with 5:13 left in the game.
The Rough Riders offense struggled until just over two minutes to go in the half. Mehlmann was able to punch it in from 1 yard out after great field position lead to the easy score. The Rough Riders were finally able to get on the board with 1:20, making the game 20-7 Ravenna. Kent got the ball back with just over a minute to go after a Ravenna turnover and got to work quickly. Mehlmann connected with standout Receiver Matt Lillibridge (9 Cth, 129 Yds, 2 TD) on a 43 yard pass to get them into Ravens territory. Two plays later Mehlmann found Lillibridge on a fade route from 22 yards out to make the score 20-14 at the half.
The third quarter was rather quiet for both teams. Ravenna was eventually able to inch their way down the field and Ross ran it in from 3 yards out. Derek Cross was able to run it in himself to give his team the 28-14 lead over the Rough Riders with 2:11 left in the quarter.
The Ravens once again scored from inside the ten yard line. With five seconds off of the fourth quarter clock the Ravens had made the score 35-14. It was Derek Cross taking it himself on a 1 yard quarterback sneak right up the middle. After a 28 yard Field Goal by Kicker Bradey Starkey made the score 38-14 with 4:11 left to go the Rough Riders looked as if they were ready to wave the white flag.
But Coach King would not let his team go down so easily. Mehlmann was able to orchestrate a drive down the field, eventually finding Lillibridge for the second time time on a scoring play, this one from 40 yards out. The Rough Riders made the score a respectable 38-21 and headed out of Ravenna defeated and looking for revenge.
“We didn’t accomplish what we set out to do, and the score board shows it.” Coach King said of his teams game plan coming in, and how he felt they accomplished it, “We got to go back to work tomorrow, we’ve got to make it better. We have to clean up some mistakes we made, we had costly penalties. I believe we fought better than we did last week, so when we look at the film there will be things to build upon.”
Meanwhile, an excited Coach Lunardi talked about his squads improvement from last weeks tough loss to this weeks victory saying “It’s so hard to judge when you’re facing a rival. No matter if one team is 5-0 and one is 0-5 both will give everything they have. That being said, we did some good things that we will look to build upon.”
One side note: Quarterback Derek Cross went down at the end of the fourth quarter for the Ravens with what appeared to be a concussion. Coach Lunardi said he had no comments on his condition, but said that they will be very cautious with him moving forward.