By SAM McGAW | Photos By DEB SCALLY
If the cliché defense wins championships is true, then Ravenwood is heading in the right direction.
The Raptors (10-2) punched their tickets to the Class 6A quarterfinals Friday with a 34-7 win at home against Independence (6-6).
Ravenwood held the Eagles to 203 total yards and forced four takeaways on defense and one on special teams.
“Our preparation has been insane,” Ravenwood linebacker Mason Stauffer said. “(Defensive coordinator Ryan Fowler) puts us in the right position to make plays. Our defense has a brotherhood, and we go hard for each other.”
Ravenwood allowed an average of 26 points per game through the first six games of the season. Since their Week 6 loss to Father Ryan, the Raptors have allowed just 14.2 points per game.
“I have to give all of the credit to Coach Fowler,” Ravenwood head coach Matt Daniels said. “The kids will run through a brick wall for him. We got together through the midpoint of the season and said, ‘let’s start mixing some things up.’ We do some basic stuff on defense because we trust our guys, but he’s gotten creative with some blitzes and started to use some of our athleticism.”
The Raptors scored 20 points off Independence turnovers.
Ravenwood safety Cole Carteaux had a fumble recovery and an interception that set up two touchdown sprints by running back Jordan Smith, and linebacker Anthony McCarthy returned an interception 15 yards for a touchdown.
Stauffer added an interception early in the fourth quarter.
“(Carteaux, McCarthy and Stauffer) are seniors that have elevated their game over the last few weeks,” Daniels said. “All that has done is inspire the guys around them.”
Ravenwood will travel to battle Cane Ridge (11-1) in the quarterfinals on Friday, Nov. 17.
The Raptors jumped to a fast start with an 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brian Garcia to wide receiver Connor Patton less than two minutes into the game.
Independence evened the score with a 1-yard touchdown run by running back Troy Henderson with 2:42 left in the opening frame.
A 22-yard touchdown run by Smith and an 11-yard touchdown run by Nick Stallcup in the second quarter sent the Raptors into halftime with a 20-7 lead.
McCarthy’s pick-six and Smith’s 18-yard touchdown dash in the third frame capped Ravenwood’s scoring.
Smith rushed for 96 yards on 17 carries, while Stallcup had 61 rushing yards and 26 receiving yards.
Miller Powell led the receiving corps with three catches for 74 yards.
McCarthy had a team-high 11 tackles, while defensive end Bryan Rice had five tackles and two sacks.
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_.