Undefeated Spartans set for showdown with Ravenwood (Tenn.)
Seven games, seven blowouts.
It’s now time for South Warren to be tested.
Entering Week 8 of the 2018 season, the Spartans – which sport a perfect 7-0 record – are preparing for their toughest opponent yet as one of the top Tennessee high school football programs, Ravenwood High School, travels to Bowling Green for a 7 p.m. kickoff on Friday at Spartan Stadium.
“Overall, I think this is one of the better teams we have ever played,” South Warren coach Brandon Smith told The Sporting Times. “We will have to play the best game we have played all year to have a chance.”
Ravenwood – which is based in Brentwood, Tenn. – is ranked the 25th best program in the state, according to MaxPreps. The Raptors are 6-1 on the season and are coming off a 41-3 win over Dickson County last Friday.
Prior to last week’s win, Ravenwood earned an impressive 35-14 victory Sept. 21 over No. 11 ranked Father Ryan.
“They are really good,” Smith said. “They play the highest level of ball in Nashville – that is elite-level ball – and they are 6-1. I think they are better on offense than they were last year. They have really good skill players, most of which played last year, and the same quarterback. He is the best quarterback we have seen so far this season.
“They are extremely well coached.”
The quarterback Smith is referring to is junior Brian Garcia, who has been lighting it up this year. Through seven games, Garcia has completed 91-of-148 passes for 1,439 yards and 20 touchdowns. He’s averaging 205.6 yards and 2.9 touchdowns per game.
Along with Garcia, junior running back Tony Rice is also a key factor for the Raptors’ offensive unit. While Rice has rushed for 739 yards and four TDs, he averages 5.8 yards per carry. He’s also reeled in five receptions for 25 yards and another score.
While Smith and the Spartans are fully aware of the type of Ravenwood team coming in, it’s the same scenario for Raptors coach Matt Daniels and his squad when it comes to preparing for South Warren.
“For the second straight year, we’re playing a highly ranked, undefeated South Warren squad,” Daniels told The Sporting Times. “It will be a great challenge for us. We see a well-coached team that plays good, consistent football – similar to last year’s team.”
South Warren has most certainly been playing good football this season.
The Spartans – currently ranked No. 3 in the Class 5A Kentucky Associated Press poll – are winning games by an average of 37 points and their starters have yet to play a full game.
Senior quarterback Gavin Spurrier has been playing nearly perfect, currently averaging nearly 200 yards and 3.3 TDs per game. On the 2018 campaign as a whole, Spurrier has completed 82-of-110 passes (75 percent) for 1,376 yards and 23 scores – with just two interceptions.
“South Warren has an experienced quarterback in Spurrier who can not only make a lot of impressive throws but does a really good job with quick decision making and getting the ball to this playmakers in space,” Daniels said. “He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. Our defense will need to put pressure on him and make him uncomfortable for us to slow down their offense.”
As the Spartans’ offense has been clicking, so has their defensive group.
Currently allowing its opponents to score just 10 points and record 104 yards per outing, the South Warren defense is led by senior defensive lineman and Notre Dame commit Jacob Lacey. Through seven games, Lacey has recorded 29 total tackles – 15 of those being solo – while senior Pete Cross leads the unit statistically with 53 total tackles.
“Based on film, South Warren’s defense looks extremely athletic,” said Daniels. “Obviously, things start up front with Lacey being such a huge, athletic presence on the defensive line, but with (WKU commit Clayton) Bush and other playmakers in the secondary it will be a challenge to put together consistent drives.”
Friday will mark the second meeting between the two sides. Ravenwood won last season’s meeting 31-17 on Oct. 6, 2017 in Brentwood, which marked South Warren’s first loss of the season.