When faced with adversity, there are those who shrink into the shadows to avoid the situation and then there is the community of Ravenswood.
Faced with the dilemma of having to replace the bleachers on the 'visitors' side of Flinn Field, the businesses and fans who have supported the program through 99 years joined with the Jackson County Board of Education and the result was a new set of gleaming, metal bleachers that would seat up to 1,600 fans when the Red Devils opened the 2014 season last Friday night against perennial Class A playoff entrant Wahama.
"You just can't say enough about the community here at Ravenswood," Athletics Director Jimmy Frashier said. "When the county told us that we were not going to be able to use our old bleachers, the community got together and made this happen tonight.
"The timing is what makes all of this hard to believe. Our community simply wasn't going to let our school down."
And, it didn't.
Donations began pouring in immediately and a check for more than $100,000 dollars was presented to the Jackson County Board of Education prior to the kickoff between Ravenswood and the White Falcons. The amount, combined with the nearly $250,000 given by the board, allowed the project to be paid in full. A feat other communities in the area were unable to accomplish.
"This is just great to see," continued Frashier. "This is what can get done when you have a community that is so supportive of your school and its athletic programs."
And the new bleachers received an immediate test as a near soldout crowd packed Flinn Field for the season opener. To commemorate the program's 100th year of football, the 'home' bleachers returned to the side that had previously been used by visiting fans while the White Falcons and their supporters occupied the stands on the pressbox side of the field.
An odd site for those of us who have covered the Jackson County team for years. But understandable when one researches the history of the Red Devils' program. A program that appears to be back on the rise under third-year head coach Mick Price.
Senior Rhys Jelich is the definition of a dual threat quarterback. The multi-talented athlete rushed for a game-high 188 yards against the White Falcons and connected on all but one of his 10 passes for 142 yards. But the most impressive play came in the second quarter when he dropped back to pass and was forced to scramble.
Using the skills of a running back and the speed of a sprinter, Jelich turned what should have been a hugh loss into a 32-yard touchdown run as the Red Devils went on to open their centennial season on the gridiron with a victory.
It was the kind of performance that is sure to keep defensive coordinators up all week trying to find ways to slow him down.
Contact Jim Butta at firstname.lastname@example.org