Tonight we go back to the home of the Ravenna Ravens to look in on the highly anticipated matchup between the Ravens and the Bulldogs. Ravenna came into the game at 2-1(0-0) and in position to strike, while the Bulldogs were sitting pretty atop the division at 3-0(0-0). With this win Ravenna would have the opportunity to seize control of the division. The Bulldogs came in, however, and took care of business, beating the Ravens to the tune of 27-6.
During the week leading up to the game the Ravens were dealt a serious blow. Senior Quarterback, and Team Captain, Derek Cross was diagnosed with a concussion on Wednesday night. It was an injury he sustained during the fourth quarter of the Ravens game against Kent Roosevelt. Coach Lunardi discussed the loss of his Quarterback after the game, saying “I found out at 7:11 on Wednesday night. We had about 48 hours to get our next kid ready to go.”
Just to put it in perspective, for people who look at Sophomore Quarterback Bowen Brown’s numbers and just write him off: Coach Lunardi said he had 48 hours to prepare. Once you break down the time, meaning minus school and sleep, and just look at practice time you have a couple of hours of practice, then the game, right? Well, football teams typically go through what’s called a pregame walkthrough. That’s where the team looks, more or less, at the mental side of the game. They go through schemes and plays, rest, and only really practice for a limited amount of time. Coach Lunardi informed me that that limited amount of time added up to 45 minutes.
45 minutes of practice time!?
Not only that, but he’s a Sophomore who’s had very little in game experience, and who’s also been asked to go up against one of the best defenses the PTC has to offer!
All with only 45 minutes of practice time!?
I know when I looked at it from that perspective I was truly amazed at what the young man accomplished, albeit a subpar statistical performance. Most would be a wreak, but no matter what the Bulldogs threw at Brown, he got back up confidently and continued on.
Now to get to the game.
The Bulldogs got the ball to start the game and wasted little time in getting down the field for their first score. Coach Jeff Decker, of the Bulldogs, came in with a solid game plan. They got their Quarterback going early on a couple of slant routes that lead to first downs. But the Bulldogs didn’t forget about their running game. Junior standout Running Back King Alfred Sanders, 20 att for 92 yds and 3 tds, (Love that name by the way), had a strong showing. He sliced and diced the Ravens defense, helping his offense stay two dimensional all night. The Bulldogs eventually got it down to the one yard line where Sanders took it in from one yard out to give his team the early 7-0 lead at the 8:47 mark.
Ravenna struggled greatly all game to get moving on offense. We discussed the challenge presented to them early in the week, but Ravenna was never a passing team to begin with. The Ravens pride themselves on the run game, which they failed miserably at. Turnovers was a key issue for their running game. The Ravens fumbled the ball four times while attempting to run the ball. In addition, the Ravens backs rarely made an attempt to hit the holes provided by their offensive lines (Which were very rare occasion themselves).
The Bulldogs took advantage during their second possession of the momentum that they were building, and delivered another solid drive. Sophomore Quarterback Mason Lydic, 9/14 for 86 yds, threw the ball well on the drive, connecting of three passes before Sanders took it in for the second of his three touchdowns. It was a 20-yard burst off the right side. Ravens defenders missed five opportunities to tackle the shifty back, including two defenders who could not stop the back at the goal line. After a missed extra point, the score was 13-0 and would stay that way the rest of the quarter.
Since the beginning of football it has been said that games are won or lost in the trenches. Those players that we respectfully call “The big ugly’s” are the players that are supposed to fight every single play as hard as they can, and it shows in the end who’s “Big ugly’s” fought the hardest. This game it was clear that the Bulldogs were the ones that won the battle in the trenches.
Coach Decker spoke excitedly after the game about his lines great play on both sides of the ball, saying “We’ve got great guys in the trenches on both sides of the ball! Coming into the season that was a question mark for us because of inexperience. We’re playing two Sophomore’s on both sides of the ball, and even the Seniors that are playing are doing it for the first time. They’re not the biggest, but they battled hard. They did awesome and I’m really proud of them!”
And Coach was absolutely right. We discussed it in our preseason review of the Bulldogs this year. Coach had expressed concerns about his lines lack of talent and experience. We can see by their play tonight that they have come together and are poised, like the entire Bulldogs team, to do something special this year.
The Ravens started with the ball in the second half, but continued to struggle moving the ball on the ground. Running Back Austin Fox danced around way too often at the line of scrimmage, and bounced outside several times when he should have cut inside. It was like that for all of Ravenna’s Running Backs though. The Bulldogs got so much penetration at the line of scrimmage, the only problem was, they got penetration on the outsides. The Bulldogs Tackles played well, but did not get in the backfield as much as their edge rushers did. The Ravens backs never picked up on this though, and struggled for most of the second half because of it.
At the end of the third quarter the Ravens got together and made a solid drive themselves down the field for their first, and only, score of the game. Brown connected with fellow Sophomore Receiver Kymani Jones in the back of the end zone. It really was a beautiful looking play, as Jones had to fully extend in the air, and barely snagged the ball while being fouled by a defender. It was a no call in the end…but common.
The final score of the game came when Sanders plowed up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown run.
“We’ve got to build, that’s all, we’ve got to build.” Coach Lunardi said of his teams outlook going into week five, “If Derek’s not able to go, then it will be nice to have a week of practice for Brown. Hopefully we’ll be able to add more to our offensive schemes.”
Meanwhile, an excited Woodridge squad looks to build as well “We’ve got a process, and that process is solid, believe in it. Each day we’re going to do the same thing, watch film, and keep going forward.”
I would also like to note that Line Backer Jaylin Clark played an amazing game rushing off the left edge for Woodridge. He scored on a 20-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the third quarter.