Entering this season, Rocky River football coach Jason Fowler said 2012 was going to be a “year of firsts.” Two games into the campaign, Fowler’s words are proving to be prophetic, and that certainly was on display during the Ravens’ scintillating 62-0 win over Harding on Aug. 24.
The game itself, which was the second consecutive victory for the Ravens, marked the first winning streak for the third-year team. Meanwhile, the final score signaled the most points the team ever had scored in a game.
The defense has been outstanding, as the Ravens have posted shutouts over Harding and Week 1 opponent West Mecklenburg (a 14-0 victory on Aug. 17 that also happened to be the first road win in program history). Meanwhile, the offense, behind senior quarterback Andre Rice and junior running back Deron Davis, has shown flashes of brilliance.
So heading into his team’s Friday, Aug. 31, matchup at perennial state power Kannapolis A.L. Brown, Fowler believed the game, in many ways, would be a barometer for where the Ravens truly stand.
“It is big for us,” Fowler said. “The first win streak, the most points scored in school history, it feels good. But we have a great team (this) week, and we have to re-focus in a hurry. (A.L. Brown has) a great wide receiver (Keeon Johnson) going to Virginia and a big-time running back (Kalif Phillips) we have to stop. We have to tighten it up a lot (this) week.”
Rice, who accounted for four passing touchdowns and two more scores on the ground against Harding, said the 2012 Ravens are different from any of the previous two Rocky River squads and he expects them to reach their goal of making the playoffs for the first time.
“We are a whole different team than last year,” Rice said. “We are all together, and we have that passion for the game this year. We want to win. We don’t want to be losers anymore.”
While the offense was electric against Harding, the defense has put back-to-back zeros on the opponents’ side of the scoreboard.
“Our defense is about responsibility,” said junior defensive back Lamar Hood. “We are going in every week and working at it. We aren’t getting too big-headed, and we are taking pride in what we are doing.”
Senior linebacker Seth Johnson, who currently ranks second on the team in tackles (14) behind fellow linebacker Caleb Brown (17), said he likes the direction the Ravens are headed.
“Our coaches have given us great game plans, and we have gone out and executed,” Johnson said. “We have been working hard in practice and we know our goal is to make the playoffs, and we are trying to get there.”
So far, the Ravens are on their way, but they also know there is a lot of football left to be played this season.
“When our defense is able to play like that, it certainly helps the offense,” Fowler said. “This time of year, the defense is always a little ahead of the offense, but that is the kind of players we have: We let them get out in space and do what they do.
“This A.L. Brown game will be a big test, and we’ll see where we are after that.”
Plethora of primetime performers
Several other area players had strong performances in last week’s games. Among them:
Independence senior wide receiver Dequan Barnes helped the Patriots to victory over North Meck by catching two touchdown passes.
Fellow Patriot Jason Connella threw three touchdown passes, including one to Workpeh Kofa, and ran for another score.
Butler senior quarterback Riley Ferguson bounced back from his three-interception outing in the season opener against Mallard Creek by completing 12 of 17 passes for 228 yards and a touchdown with no turnovers in the win over Olympic.
The versatile Anthony Ratliff had a special night, stepping in to throw a touchdown for the Bulldogs after also catching a 34-yard touchdown pass from Ferguson.
Bulldogs senior Josh Glisson ran for 60 yards and three touchdowns.
Rocky River’s Lamar Hood intercepted two passes and recorded eight tackles in the Ravens’ win over Harding.
Butler senior receiver Uriah LeMay had his second consecutive 100-yard game, hauling in six passes for 147 yards and a touchdown.
Bulldogs freshman Benjamin LeMay, Uriah’s younger brother, made his way into the spotlight by rushing for three touchdowns to go with his 57 yards on nine carries.
Rocky River quarterback Andre Rice had the best all-around game of his career, totaling six touchdowns – four passing and two rushing – and also converted a two-point conversion.
Butler senior Channing Stribling, a Michigan recruit, had a 70-yard kickoff return.
Independence senior Jack Tocho returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown while also intercepting two passes.