In Pursuit and Defense of Championships 5

A Preseason Guide to Brentwood Prep Football

The wonderful thing about a new season of football is the guaranteed clean slate that comes with it. Every player has an opportunity to earn a starting spot and every team has the chance the win a championship title. Some teams will thrive; others will struggle.

But each team begins in the same spot: with the belief that their goals are attainable. And that’s where Brentwood area high school teams find themselves as the new season is about to unfold.

Ravenwood High School

Following their Class 6A Championship in 2015, the Ravenwood Raptors look to continue their success into 2016 under first year head coach Richie Wessman.

Although the Raptors are returning only a few starters from last year’s lineup, their impact is significant, particularly that from Pat Leitten and Tahj Williams.

“These two have tremendous athleticism and compete on the field every snap,” says Wessman. “They go head-to-head every day in practice, and whoever has to go against them on Friday night will have their hands full.”

The group may be young, but their progress is promising and has not gone unnoticed.

“This team is growing leaps and bounds every day,” says Wessman. “There has been significant improvement in explosiveness, speed, quickness and strength. We have yet to reach our limit for all talent and skill. It’s exciting when you see improvement in all levels and have yet to reach your ceiling. We still have a lot of work to do, however, to be the team we want to be.”

Key contributors for the team, both offensively and defensively, include Carter Nelson, Graham Wallace, McCain Marrow, John Rall, Miller Powell, Seth Smeltz, Elijah Dryer, Kyle Briggs, Nathan Freeman, Connor Dodson, and Tripp Waring.

“These young men are an amazing group … and no matter what happens, it’s a joy to be with them through it all,” says Wessman. “If we keep getting better, the sky is the limit.”

Brentwood Academy

At Brentwood Academy, Head Coach Cody White mirrors his player’s commitment to excellence. The team is looking to continue their success after winning the Division II-AA championship title in a double-overtime thriller last year.

“This senior group are winners,” said White. “They’ve won at every sport they possibly can. They expect to win.”

This expectation to win is accompanied with a work ethic that makes winning possible, as is evident in senior Jeremiah Oatsvall. Arguably the most recognizable name on the team, Oatsvall captured the offensive MVP title in the football state championship game in addition to winning back-to-back MVP awards in the Division II-AA state basketball tournament.

However, as with any team sport, Oatsvall can’t do it alone. White’s list of players to watch also extends to Camron Johnson, Lawrence Segree, Daniel Taylor, Evan Beddoe, Jackson Sirmon, Josh Higgs, Thomas Gore and Gavin Shoenwald.

“You can learn how to lose just like you can learn how to win and our kids know how to win,” said White. “It’s a habit. They know what it takes to do that. I think that’s a neat thing about our school. It’s been pretty extraordinary across the board in all sports.”

Brentwood High School

Last year Brentwood High School showed drastic improvement in the first year of Ron Crawford’s second stint as head coach of the blue and gold. The key in 2016 will be to continue that upward trajectory.

Brentwood finished 6-5, a four-game upgrade from 2014, and won a first-round playoff game. A look inside the numbers reveals a team that easily handled most of its 5A rivals, finishing 5-1 in district play. It was only against higher-level schools that the Bruins struggled.

The schedule this year is similar, frontloaded with heavyweights. If Brentwood is up to that challenge, it bodes well for district play, which begins at home against Rossview on September 2.

One of the players leading the charge will be senior Collin Rudolph, the team’s top returning rusher. Others key players figure to be senior Will Leone, the top returning receiver, and defenders Will Stansworth, safety Bryce Merrell and cornerback Matthew Phillips.