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Story and Video By SAM McGAW

Two high-powered offenses will clash this Friday night when the Ravenwood Raptors visit the Independence Eagles for a District 11-AAA battle.

Ravenwood (3-0, 0-0) at Independence (4-0, 1-0), 7 p.m.*

Two high-powered offenses will clash this Friday night when the Ravenwood Raptors visit the Independence Eagles for a District 11-AAA battle.

The Raptors, who are coming a 35-0 win over LaVergne, expect to face their toughest test of the year against a feisty Eagles’ defense.

“We have to execute in both the run game and passing game,” RHS head coach Will Hester said. “We can’t get stupid, bone-headed penalties and do that kind of stuff. They do some different things on their defensive line, as far as cutting the offensive line and trying to make piles and that kind of stuff. We have some things we have to do to try and counteract that.”

Ravenwood RB Seth Rowland is averaging 7.4 yards per carry this season (Photo by Deb Scally for BHP)

Ravenwood will look to continue establishing its dominance on the ground with the help of running back Seth Rowland.

Through three games this year, Rowland has racked up 362 rushing yards and five touchdowns.

He said he knows his yards on the ground won’t come easy against a much-improved Eagles’ run defense.

“I’m expecting so see some speed on their front,” Rowland said. “I know they’re not as big as some of the teams we’ve played, but I know they’re going to be just as physical, probably even better up front. I know they’re going to be one of the toughest defenses we face this year.”

After allowing an average of 6.13 yards per carry through the first two weeks of the season, the Eagles have bolstered down and allowed only 3.41 YPC in their two most-recent contests.

“We’ve stepped it up a lot,” said Indy safety Ben Beavers. “We were doubted a ton, but we just tend to build off the negative hype.”

Independence head coach Scott Blade said Ravenwood’s offense will be much different than anything his team has seen this year.

“Through the first five games, it’s the most balanced attack we’ve seen to this point,” he said. “It’s got huge challenges. Anytime they put you out into space, like we do with defenses, it presents challenges and it’s harder to do, so we know we’re going to have our hands full this week.”

One of the biggest keys for the Eagles is containing Ravenwood quarterback Cole Brown.

Ravenwood QB Cole Brown went 15-of-22 for 159 yards and 1 TD against LaVergne (Photo by Deb Scally for BHP)

With 414 passing yards, 116 rushing yards and three touchdowns, Brown has shown he has the ability to create problems for opposing defenses both inside and outside the pocket.

He said this week’s matchup against the Indy secondary will be a good test to see how much his rapport has improved with receivers Austin Percy (13 rec., 205 yards, 1 TD) and Van Jefferson (11 rec., 128 yards, 2 TDs).

“They’re athletic, fast and they play the ball well,” Brown said about the Eagles’ secondary. “However, we have the best receivers in the state, so hopefully we can match up pretty well.”

Just like the Raptors, the Independence offense has multiple weapons that can take it the distance at any given moment.

With an up-tempo attack and an experienced quarterback in junior Andrew Bunch (738 pass yards, 200 rush yards, 14 TDs), the Eagles have been near-impossible to slow down.

“Andrew Bunch does a wonderful job of getting the ball out quickly,” Hester stated. “He’s not going to hold it for a long time. You’re not going to be able to get a lot of pressure on him. He’s going to make quick, precise throws and we have to do a job playing coverage.”

The reapers of Bunch’s success have been junior wide receivers Nate Johnson (17 rec., 288 yards, 7 TDs), Seth Huner (16 rec., 317 yards, 1 TD) and Adam Swayze (13 rec., 251 yards, 1 TD).

Indy receiver Nate Johnson (2) has 7 TDs this year (Photo submitted by Bill Dorsten)

“They’ve definitely been performing well,” Bunch said. “They work hard every day at practice. It’s a blessing for me to have guys that good to throw to every day.”

Along with their passing game, the Eagles have a two-headed monster in the backfield with running backs Dom Childress (315 rush yards, 2 TDs) and Jordan Pope (230 rush yards, 3 TDs).

“We have a lot of talented running backs,” Bunch said. “Dom is one of our faster guys and we have Jordan anytime we need short yardage.”

While the Eagles’ offense has been close to unstoppable with its 42.5 points per game, the Ravenwood Raptors aren’t shying away from the challenge. Instead, they’re embracing the opportunity to test themselves against one the district’s top offenses.

“Our defense has been playing great all year,” Hester said. “We’re going to go as far as they can take us. Our defense is the strength of our football team. Even though we have some big-name players on offense, I think our defense is what makes us tick.”

Sam McGaw is the sports editor for Franklin Home Page. Email him at sam@brentwoodhomepage.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @SamMcGawSports.

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