Expectations running high for Red Devils
RAVENSWOOD – For most high school football programs, the recently-concluded three week summer practice period is a time when coaches teach fundamentals, begin the basics for putting in the team’s offensive and defensive schemes, and spend time bonding with the athletes that will make up the fall roster.
For third-year Ravenswood head coach Mick Price, the 21-day period not only included all three of those items, but also served as a kickoff for a very, very special event for the Red Devils, who will be celebrating their 100th football season when they open the 2014 campaign by hosting Class A playoff entrant Wahama.
“It (the 100th year) is a really, really big event,” said Price, who also serves as the school’s head boys’ basketball coach and athletics director. “With the advent of consolidation, there are fewer and fewer schools that can say that they have played football for 100 years.”
Coming off their first playoff appearance under Price, the red and black appear to have a veteran unit that not only is capable of returning to the postseason, but also advancing beyond the opening round.
“We have 17 seniors this year,” Price said. “These are the same kids that started with me when we went 2-8. Last year, we got to the playoffs and got beat by a very good Bluefield team, but the experience was a good one and our expectations this year are a lot higher.”
Those expectations begin with finding replacements for two important cogs on offense-quarterback Heath Burgess and running back Devon Crews-as well as an offensive front that will be without the services of 293-pounder Willy Parsons and 182-pounder Nathan Cunningham, who also served as the team’s placekicker.
“Finding replacements for Heath (Burgess) and Devon (Crews) will not be an easy task. Heath has been our starting quarterback for the past two seasons and Devon did just about everything for us,” Price said. “Not only do we have those losses, but we have to do some rebuilding on our offensive line as well.”
The athletes are on the roster, however, for Price and his assistants to fill those spots. Senior Rhys Jelich returns after finishing second to Crews (118 carries, 967 yards, 13 TD) in rushing with 678 yards and nine touchdowns on 119 totes of the pigskin. Also back are seniors Ben Johnson (42-242, 4 TD) and Thomas Sturm, who led the team with 17 receptions for 340 yards (20.0 ypc) and two touchowns.
“We had a chance to participate in a 7-on-7 and Lineman’s Challenge at Cabell Midland and also played some 7-on-7 at Herbert Hoover and against Wirt County during the 3-week period,” said the coach. “We came away from each of those with some ideas of where we need to go from there and what we needed to work on when camp opens in August.”
In the meantime, Price is busy running his annual Baskeball Camp and overseeing the installation of new bleachers that will turn the visitors’ side into the home side when Wahama comes to town on Aug. 29.
“For years, the home side used to be over there. The pressbox will remain where it is until we can raise the money to move it, but we wanted to return the home stands to where they were since this is our 100th year.”