By SAM McGAW
After a strong finish to last season, the Ravenwood Raptors approach 2017 with a new head coach and a handful of key pieces to replace on both sides of the ball.
Matt Daniels is the team’s third head coach in three years following the departure of Richie Wessman, who resigned in January after one season.
He inherits a program that closed last season with a 7-6 record and a Class 6A state quarterfinal appearance.
“We are looking to start fast in order to compete in the extremely difficult Region 6-6A,” Daniels said. “We have some fun new traditions centering on Friday nights and hope to bring plenty of on-field excitement to go along with it. We expect nothing less than a deep playoff run.”
The Raptors will compete against Brentwood, Centennial, Dickson County, Franklin and Independence in Region 6.
Daniels said one of the keys to his team’s success this year is meshing his strong senior class with the talent of his younger players.
Offensively, Ravenwood is tasked with replacing quarterback McCain Marrow, running back Carter Nelson, wide receivers John Rall (Lake Forest College) and Nate Freeman and linemen Patrick Leitten (Duke), Connor Dodson and Tavion Mills.
Defensively, they’ll be without one of their top playmakers in edge defender Tahj Williams, who accounted for three touchdowns and over 70 tackles.
The Raptors will continue to base their offense out of the spread. Nick Stallcup leads the unit at quarterback. The senior is the team’s fifth starting QB in five years.
Sophomore Brian Garcia and senior Seth Erickson could also see time behind center.
Junior Anthony Holmes and senior Cameron Scherer are expected to spearhead the backfield at running back.
Senior Miller Powell brings experience to the receiving corps. Senior Parker Nash, sophomore Andrew Mason and Holmes will also line up on the outside.
Jared McArthur (Sr.), Mason Stauffer (Sr.) and Avery Miller (So.) will see time at tight end.
Up front, senior Drew Harmon is a returning starter at center. He’ll be accompanied by seniors Mason Dill and Andrew Pitts and sophomores Gabriel Sleenhof and Graham Barton.
Ravenwood’s defense will base out of the 4-3 this season.
Reagan Carlson (Jr.) and Bryan Rice (So.) will play defensive end. Connor Holland (Sr.), Brandon Carver (Jr.), Barton and Pitts are also expected to see time in the trenches.
Stauffer, Brandon Huff (Sr.), Jordan Smith (So.), Scherer, McArthur and Miller will help make up the linebacking corps.
There’s plenty of experience in the secondary with cornerback Ramez Ibrahim (Sr.) and safeties Cole Carteaux (Sr.) and Erickson returning.
Darius Harper (Sr.) will man the other corner spot, and Jordan Smith could also see time at safety.
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_ .