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High School Notebook: Ravenel’s future still tied to JMU

BY TAFT COGHILL JR.

THE FREE LANCE–STAR

It didn’t take long for James Madison football coach Mickey Matthews to make a call to North Stafford High School.

The Dukes had just fired offensive coordinator Jeff Durden and offensive line coach Chris Malone—the primary recruiter who helped land North Stafford wide receiver Brandon Ravenel last summer.

So Matthews wanted to make sure his prized recruit from the Class of 2013 was still onboard.

“Brandon was the No. 1 priority,” North Stafford coach Joe Mangano said. “I got a call literally within minutes after they released their two coaches.”

Mangano said Matthews shouldn’t worry. He said Ravenel remains firmly committed the Dukes. He said Ravenel “may listen to a couple [other] coaches, but I don’t know if he’s going to go on any visits.”

“To be honest, the more it’s coming down to it,” Mangano said, “I don’t think he’s going to change his mind.”

Ravenel (6-foot, 170 pounds) likely would have options if he did. The 2011 All-Area performer is rated a three-star prospect by recruiting service Rivals.com. He also had scholarship offers from Boston College, Buffalo, Old Dominion, Temple and West Virginia before he chose the Dukes.

Matthews met Ravenel at North Stafford early Monday morning.

Ravenel’s oral commitment is nonbinding and he can’t sign a national letter of intent until Feb. 6. But Mangano doesn’t envision a change.

“I think he likes the school and he’s a loyal person,” Mangano said. “He’s one of those guys that when he says he’s going to commit to something he commits to it. He’s had his heart set on JMU for a while.”

A ‘WIN–WIN’ FOR CAVS

Caroline first-year athletic director Paul Heizer said the Cavaliers’ move from Conference 22 to Conference 20 in the Virginia High School League’s realignment plan that takes place next school year is a “win–win” for the school.

The Cavaliers will still compete against their Battlefield District rivals during the regular season. But they’ll break away to play their southern neighbors during conference play.

The Cavaliers were originally in Conference 22 with Chancellor, Courtland, Eastern View, Fauquier, King George and Liberty. But in the final realignment plan that was released recently, they’re grouped with Dinwiddie, Glen Allen, Hanover, J.R. Tucker, Midlothian and Monacan. Heizer said the change took place because there was a numbers gap between 4A North and 4A South.

As the southernmost school in Conference 22, the Cavaliers were chosen to head to 4A South. They were slated to join Conference 19 with Grafton, Jamestown, Powhatan, Smithfield and Tabb. Heizer requested to join Conference 20 instead because of travel concerns.

“I ran the mileage and the average bus trip [in Conference 19] would’ve been 80 miles,” Heizer said. “I said, ‘If we’re going to move, let’s try to be proactive and get into Conference 20 with schools that are closer.’ It wasn’t that we didn’t want to be in 22. It was, ‘If we’re going to be on the cutting block, we should at least try to have a voice in where we go.’”

Heizer said some of his coaches have expressed concerns about moving from a conference with all current Group AA schools to one with all Group AAA programs.

But he said the Cavaliers should be able to compete in sports like basketball and track and field. He said Caroline is expecting an enrollment increase that should help it become competitive in other sports, as well.

B.C. IS KELLY’S TOP PICK

After returning from an official visit to Boston College on Tuesday, former Chancellor basketball standout Rashard Kelly said the Eagles are his No. 1 choice.

The 6-foot-7 senior forward now plays for Massanutten Military Academy after two years at Bishop O’Connell. He said he also has scholarship offers from Delaware, DePaul, Old Dominion, Seton Hall and Western Kentucky.

Kelly said he plans to make a decision after Jan. 1.

“I just like the competition they play every night [in the Atlantic Coast Conference],” Kelly said of the Eagles. “They’re adding Syracuse, Louisville and Notre Dame, so that’s good competition every day.”

Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526

tcoghill@freelancestar.com

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