South Warren answers test, remains undefeated
For the first time all season, South Warren received a test.
Following weeks of forcing running clocks and recording blowout wins, the Spartans earned their first challenge on Friday night against Ravenwood High School – a top Class 6A program from Brentwood, Tenn. – at Spartan Stadium.
South Warren matched up with a versatile, athletic Ravenwood squad that presented a strong defensive unit that wouldn’t stop attacking. The Spartans’ usually-lethal offense watched multiple drives end in punts and were stopped more than once when it looked like they would score, but it didn’t even seem like it once the final horn sounded.
Ultimately, the Spartans – led this week by their dominant defensive unit – did enough to earn a 21-0 win and remain undefeated on the season.
“We came into this week trying to figure out where we were at because we hadn’t really played a full game,” South Warren senior and Notre Dame commit Jacob Lacey said. “We came out here, and I think we got a pretty good idea of what we’re capable of – even though we can do a lot better than we did tonight.
“It’s going to be fun going forward, so we’ll see.”
South Warren (8-0) jumped out to a 14-0 lead after the opening quarter – and it remained that same score for the next two periods.
The Spartans were prevented from getting into the red zone throughout the second and third quarters, but it was near the midway point of the fourth when they were able to capitalize on a few plays and finally score again.
After South Warren forced Ravenwood (6-2) to punt from deep into its own territory, the Spartans blocked the kick and recovered it at the Raptors’ 14-yard-line. Just a few plays later, Cameron Harrison scored on a two-yard touchdown run to push the SWHS lead to 21-0 and earn it another win.
“We haven’t played defense like that in a long time – if ever. I thought they did an outstanding job defensively,” South Warren coach Brandon Smith said. “Our defense kept holding with good field position and I thought they did an outstanding job tonight.”
While it was the Spartans’ defense that earned the spotlight, Harrison finished with two TDs and 150 yards to highlight the offensive unit. Along with the senior running back, senior Clayton Bush – a WKU commit – recorded the other South Warren score.
South Warren delivered the first punches, scoring twice in the final minutes of the first quarter to lead 14-0 after 12 minutes of action.
Bush capped a lengthy Spartans’ drive with a one-yard TD run to record the first points of the game. Out of a direct snap, Bush made his way to the left sideline and easily crossed the pylon to give South Warren a 7-0 lead at the 5:21 mark of the first.
“It was really nice,” Bush said of the win. “We put together an objective that we wanted to ‘get through a mission.’ I think we accomplished that pretty well. We played as a unit – we didn’t play solo – and we got the job done.”
The Spartans doubled their advantage just over two minutes later, scoring on a 56-yard run from Harrison to make it 14-0. On just the second play of the drive, Harrison took a handoff from senior quarterback Gavin Spurrier and sprinted untouched down the right sideline to put South Warren up by two scores with 3:08 left in the quarter.
After 14 points were scored in the opening period, both defenses – especially Ravenwood’s – stepped up in the ensuing frame and didn’t allow the scoreboard to be altered.
“Things are easy when you’re playing with a lead,” Smith said. “There’s no doubt about it. Every time we got a big gain (offensively), there was some penalty and we just got behind the sticks. We felt like we were always second and long after those first two drives. The defense did a great job of picking us up.”
Following a Raptors’ punt late in the second, South Warren took over in its opponent’s territory looking to add another score to its side of the board before halftime. Instead of getting back into the end zone, the Spartans’ series was negated by multiple penalties and numerous stops by the Ravenwood defense.
Despite being kept from scoring, the Spartans took a 14-0 lead into the locker room at the break. Harrison was already up to 112 yards on 15 carries after the first 24 minutes, and South Warren was outgaining Ravenwood 195-4 in the total yards category.
Harrison continued to produce in the second half.
“I thought we had guys that showed up and made plays when we needed to make plays,” said Smith. “In games like this, the other team’s going to have good plays and you’re going to make mistakes. It’s about if you can put it behind you, handle adversity and make a play when you need to.
“I thought our guys did that.”
After the Spartans blocked a punt and were able to start their first drive of the fourth quarter at the Ravenwood 14-yard-line, they needed just a couple of plays before Harrison scored from two yards out to record the first – and last – points of the half.
Harrison’s TD moved South Warren’s lead to 21-0 – and it was able to hold on from there and earn a tough victory to maintain its perfect record.
The Spartans now get a week off before hosting crosstown rival Bowling Green in a Class 5A, District 2 battle on Oct. 19. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Spartan Stadium.
“We have high expectations,” Bush said. “Last year, we had to learn the hard way in a few games. We have a lot of people coming back – a lot of leaders – and I feel like we get the job done now. We have an objective and a reason to do it. We’re on a roll.”
RHS – 0 0 0 0
SWHS – 14 0 0 7
SWHS – Bush 1-yard run (Dervisevic kick), 5:21
SWHS – Harrison 56-yard run (Dervisevic kick), 3:08