The Gridiron Blog brings you the scores, stats and stories from Fredericksburg-area high school football.
Player of the Week: Ravenel atones for time off field
Every Thursday before a game, North Stafford coaches issue stickers for achievements earned in the previous Friday’s game.
Offensive players get stickers with a football emblem; defensive players get skulls and crossbones.
Some helmets are littered with the stickers—a showing of personal accomplishment.
Not Brandon Ravenel’s. The Wolverines’ star wide receiver earns loads of stickers but doesn’t accept them. That’s evidence of Ravenel’s character as a player—selfless and humble.
“I’m here to help my team,” Ravenel said. “I don’t feel like I need stickers to show anything. I don’t like drawing attention to myself.”
Like it or not, Ravenel drew plenty of attention last Friday when he torched Stafford for 173 yards and four touchdowns on 14 receptions to help North Stafford claim the Victory Bell. For that, Ravenel has been named The Free Lance–Star’s Player of the Week.
In the two weeks prior, Ravenel had been stuck on the sidelines due to injuries and what he called “some other things.”
It was the first time in four years he had been forced to watch on the sidelines.
“I’ve been starting since I was a freshman, so to have to sit and have to watch, it was terrible,” Ravenel said. “I never want to have to do it again.”
Coming back from a two-game hiatus isn’t the first challenge Ravenel has faced this year. He’s had to adjust to a new field general after the graduation of do-it-all quarterback Austin Grebe. North Stafford has tried two quarterbacks—junior Von Purvis and sophomore Jalen Sarratt.
“He’s a quarterback’s dream because he’s very precise in his route running,” coach Joe Mangano said of Ravenel. “And he’s a stickler on attention to detail on a lot of the little things.”
As a 14-year-old freshman, Ravenel caught the eyes of his coaches by scoring a touchdown in his first game. Since then he’s become the Wolverines’ go-to guy. Coaches see him as the guy who’s jumping in line first at conditioning and team drills.
“It’s not just like sometimes, it’s every day in everything,” Mangano said. “That’s just the way he is and the way he approaches it. He approaches the game like a college player, almost like a professional.”
Ravenel’s team-oriented approach has helped North Stafford to a 7–1 record, clinching a first-round bye in the Northwest Region, Division 5 playoffs. He’s also inched his way up the receiving ranks in the Virginia High School League record books. But he shows no attention to where he stands as far as the record books go.
“I have no clue,” he said.
He prefers not to be flashy. It’s indicative of his choice of where he will attend college next fall. Offers from alluring BCS schools like Boston College and West Virginia didn’t sway him. Instead, he chose what he saw as a better fit in James Madison from the Football Championship Subdivision.
“I kept my eyes open, but I felt like JMU was my first love,” Ravenel said. “It’s like finding your wife.”
But for now, Ravenel is focused on the task at hand—driving North Stafford, which he said he believes can bring home a state championship.
“His only concern is winning. He just wants to win,” Mangano said. “Whether he has zero catches or 13 catches in games, he’s just helping his team to win. That’s all he cares about.”
Jim Swing: 540/374-5440
This season’s Free Lance–Star football players of the week:
Week 1: Javonte Latney, Massaponax RB
Week 2: Tyus White, Brooke Point WR
Week 3: Kwesie Dadzie, North Stafford RB
Week 4: Cody Goode, F’burg Christian LB
Week 5: DaeSean Hamilton, Mountain View WR
Week 6: Da’Shawn Harris, Stafford RB
Week 7: Sean Bates, James Monroe RB
Week 8: Chris Purvis, Chancellor LB
Week 9: Brandon Ravenel, North Stafford WR