By SAM McGAW
HUNTINGTON LEARNING CENTER GAME OF THE WEEK
Ravenwood (3-1, 1-1) at Brentwood (4-0, 2-0), 7 p.m. Friday
Over the past eight seasons, the Battle of the Woods has barely been a competition. However, Friday’s matchup between the Brentwood Bruins and Ravenwood Raptors has a different feel to it.
On one side, Brentwood is off to its first 4-0 start since it opened 8-0 in 2012. As for Ravenwood, which has won three straight contests, there’s a renewed sense of confidence under first-year head coach Matt Daniels.
“We’re excited to be in this position and to go up against a team of this caliber in Brentwood,” Ravenwood head coach Matt Daniels said. “It’s just exciting to be in this rivalry and be on the other side of it. There’s some strong football in 6A, and going against a Top 5 team in 6A, that’s kind of the definition of a litmus test, especially for a young and inexperienced team like ourselves.”
The Bruins won last year’s matchup 41-10. It was the seventh game in the last eight meetings that was decided by 14 points or more.
Brentwood head coach Ron Crawford, who is 8-5 against Ravenwood, said his team isn’t buying into the buildup that surrounds the rivalry.
“It appears to be business as usual for us,” he stated. “With us opening with Franklin, I think it got rid of some of those rivalry jitters with our play. We were able to handle that and get through it, so I think that helps us leading into this week to tune out some of the noise.”
The Bruins have won by an average margin of 31 points over the past three weeks.
Quarterback Carson Shacklett is the fuel for Brentwood’s high-powered offense. He was nearly perfect in last week’s 42-7 win against Stewarts Creek, completing 10 of 11 passes for 223 yards and four touchdowns.
He has 705 passing yards and nine touchdowns this season.
“I think Carson is believing in what we’re doing, and he’s good at what we’re doing with his skillset,” Crawford said. “That’s helped his confidence go up and I think he has a lot of confidence in our receivers, as far as the passing game is concerned.”
Daniels said there are some similarities between Shacklett and Ravenwood’s top weapon, quarterback Nick Stallcup.
“Having the threat of him touching the ball every single play, I really compare that to Stallcup,” he said. “I do not envy the other defensive coordinators that have to prepare for Nick, and now we’re kind of in the same boat preparing for Carson. He can do it all, and I guess we just have to hope to catch him on a bad game.”
Brentwood’s receiving corps is made up of Parker Bullion (10 rec., 171 yds, 2 TDs), Chayce Bishop (5 rec., 113 yds, 3 TDs), Grant Yocam (11 rec., 144 yards, 1 TD) and Avery Williams (4 rec., 91 yds 3 TDs).
Bishop and Williams are the team’s main deep threats. Bishop has found the end zone in each of the past three games, while Williams has scored in two of the last three.
H-back Kaden Dreier (7 rec., 86 yds) is another top target for Shacklett.
The Bruins also feature a pair of home-run hitters at running back in Carter McKechnie (266 rush yds, 76 rec. yds, 4 TDs) and Jordan Nicholas (181 rush yds, 3 TDs).
“They’re solid across the board, in terms of skill guys on the offensive side of the ball,” Daniels said. “Our secondary takes pride in being an unsung group. In the last 17 games that I’ve coached at Ravenwood, I think we’ve only given up 100 yards of passing two or three times. We’re going to fall back on that and use it to build confidence.”
Much like Shacklett for Brentwood, Stallcup is the pulse of the Raptors’ offense. The senior quarterback, who’s also been used in different roles, has 315 rushing yards, 211 passing yards, 37 receiving yards and five touchdowns (2 pass).
He recorded 149 rushing yards, 36 passing yards, 15 receiving yards and two touchdowns (1 pass) in last week’s 46-21 win against Page.
Other top contributors for the Raptors include running backs Cameron Scherer (155 rush yds, 3 TDs) and Anthony Holmes (162 rush yds, 140 rec. yds, 5 TDs), as well as wide receiver Miller Powell (10 rec., 206 yds, 2 TDs).
Quarterback Brian Garcia is the team’s primary passer. He’s thrown for 536 yards, five touchdowns and one interception.
Overall, Ravenwood averages 31.75 points and 371.5 total yards per game.
“They really are doing some good things schematically,” Crawford said. “They use a lot of unbalanced formations and try to outnumber you at the point of attack. There’s a lot of eye candy with jet motion and orbit motion. Other than that, it’s pretty much a similar run game to ours. The quarterback, Stallcup, is able to pull the ball down in pass situations and make plays with his feet, as well as through the air.”
The Bruins have allowed 31 points and forced 10 turnovers this season. Their opponents have averaged 205.5 total yards per game against them.
“They make you work for everything and kind of force you into mistakes,” Daniels said. “They stick to their guns and play really good, fundamental football. They force you to be pretty much flawless in your execution. Obviously, (linebacker C.J. Grissim) kind of makes everything go for them. He’s tough and the rest of that defense feeds off of his energy and physicality.”
Sam McGaw is the sports editor for Brentwood Home Page, Franklin Home Page, Nolensville Home Page and Spring Hill Home Page. Follow him on Twitter @SamMcGaw_.