By SAM McGAW
Huntington Learning Center Game of the Week
Ravenwood (10-2) at Cane Ridge (11-1), 7 p.m.
While the Ravenwood Raptors ride into the Class 6A quarterfinals on a six-game winning streak, they know they haven’t faced a team that features the level of talent that the Cane Ridge Ravens possess.
On Friday, they’ll look to take down the Region 5-6A champions for a semifinal berth.
“It’s cool to see our players recognize that Cane Ridge is the best team we’ve faced this year,” Ravenwood head coach Matt Daniels said. “They recognize the challenge ahead of us. It’s not something our coaches have had to make clear to them.”
Cane Ridge has won 10 straight games, including a 28-13 victory against Brentwood a week ago.
The Ravens offense features a talented trio of playmakers in quarterback Kory Andrews, running back Devon Starling and wide receiver Jared McCray.
Andrews has recorded 2,171 passing yards, 31 touchdowns (7 run) and 10 interceptions, while McCray has caught 81 passes for 1,344 yards and 11 scores.
Starling’s registered 1,922 rushing yards, 204 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns.
“It’s been a challenge figuring out exactly how we want to play these guys on defense,” Daniels said. “It’s kind of like pick your poison. If you try to stop (McCray), you’re worried about (Starling) coming out of the backfield. It’s the biggest challenge we’ve faced all year. We’re getting a taste of our own medicine when you try to stop a balanced offense that has many threats all over the field.”
Ravenwood is scoring an average of 33.33 points per game this season. It’s on the heels of a 34-7 beatdown of Independence.
The Raptors’ offense has benefited from the emergence of running back Jordan Smith. The sophomore has rushed for 742 yards and nine touchdowns over the last six games.
While Ravenwood has leaned on Smith a lot recently, Nick Stallcup is the team’s top offensive weapon. The senior athlete has 689 rushing yards, 346 passing yards, 334 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns (2 pass).
Quarterback Brian Garcia is the ringleader of the group. He’s passed for 1,824 yards, 16 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Cane Ridge has allowed 21 points or less in each of its wins this season. Linebacker Jahsun Bryant leads the unit with 69 tackles (12 for loss), a forced fumble and a sack.
The Ravens have forced 22 sacks and 21 turnovers.
“They’re fast and physical,” Daniels said. “I know our offensive staff is worries about Bryant. He’s tough to game plan around. He’s consistently shown on film he’s able to be double teamed and still get to the football. They challenge you to make plays. We’re going to have to want it more than them.”