In a playoff matchup of two 6A titans, the Ravenwood Raptors football team will put its 8-2 record on the line at home Friday night against the Whitehaven Tigers of Memphis (7-3).
The Whitehaven Tigers are under the direction of head coach Rodney Saulsberry, who has been with the program since 2004. Saulsberry has won two state titles in his career at Whitehaven in 2012 and 2016.
Ravenwood’s head coach Will Hester has started his second stint at Ravenwood this year. His first tenure at Ravenwood was from 2013-15 where he won a state title in 2015. Hester’s all-time record at the school is 46-6.
Whitehaven’s sophomore quarterback William Carver can make an impressive impact in a game with his arm and legs. He has tallied 291 rushing yards and five touchdowns and passed for 721 yards with seven touchdowns during the regular season (not including stats against Bartlett last week).
The Tigers have a star player in their rushing attack with senior running back Derrius Boddie Jr. Before their final game of the season, Boddie Jr. had 634 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the season.
Ravenwood’s offense will need to keep an eye on senior edge rusher Javante Mackey. Prior to last week, this defensive disrupter accumulated 55 total tackles, with 37 of those tackles recorded as solo. He also totaled 15 tackles for loss.
Ravenwood will welcome back after injury a playmaking threat in their offense on the ground and through the air with the return of junior quarterback and Florida State commit Chris Parson. In his latest appearance against Pope John Paul II, Parson had a video game performance, rushing for 50 yards (three touchdowns) and throwing for 286 yards (three touchdowns).
It was the dynamic running back trio of sophomore Carter Pace, junior Kartuah Chapman, and senior JT Smitherman that helped secure the victory for Ravenwood 20-10 over Independence last Friday.
Pace had a monster night on the ground, rushing for 144 yards and one touchdown. Chapman rushed for 98 yards and one touchdown. Smitherman contributed 68 yards rushing and one touchdown.
Ravenwood can expect a substantial challenge from Whitehaven, but will rely on their balanced offensive game plan as they attempt to advance to round two next week against the winner of region foe Independence and Collierville.