Longtime Ravenscroft head football coach Ned Gonet knows a thing or two about following up a championship.
The Ravens claimed the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Class II title in 2015 – the fifth in their head coach’s 35 seasons (ninth overall) – with a 50-26 win over Christ School.
But that team graduated 20 seniors and was expected to win.
“Like I tell these guys, last year, we had 18 of 22 back,” Gonet said. “This year, it’s the opposite. But I like this kind of year. No expectations. Last year, everyone knew we’d be good. This year, no one knows. So, to put in the work and to see the results, it can be so fulfilling.”
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How do the Ravens recoup?
The core of the team graduated, and a few other players transferred from the school. As a result, the offensive line will be retooled around the ground and pound games of senior backs Sam Landis (6-foot, 250 pounds) and Donald Fuller (6-foot, 220 pounds) and junior quarterback Dylan Harris.
“We’ve got two guys over 220 pounds,” Gonet said. “That’s a power backfield. ... And Dylan took the reins early last year and led us to a state championship. He’s got great energy and runs and throws the ball well. Most of the other guys are new, but we have a great foundation to start with.”
Will the young offensive line be ready?
You may think the talented skill players would be worried about a fairly new offensive line. Not so fast.
“You know what?” Fuller said. “We’re back to the basics right now. And that’s not a bad thing. You get those basic sets, those basic plays going well and everything grows from there. You can’t miss the simple and expect to get better.”
Added running back Devon Perry: “We’ve got some experienced guys and some inexperienced guys. But the way we play, it’s all about pulling and running. These guys are gritty and ready to get down and do the work.”
Will there be enough depth?
Landis and Perry both anchor the backfield and the defense. With less experienced players this season, their time on the field could rise.
“Last year, we had lots of depth,” Gonet said. “And that helped out immensely. We have a very competitive schedule, it’s very challenging early in non-conference. But if we can stay healthy and minimize the amount of time two-way players must go, we can be successful.”
The key, Landis adds, is to keep it simple.
“Every year there is pressure to do big things here,” Landis said. “But we’ll take it the same as last year. One at a time, do the work and hope the end result is another championship.”
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Last year: 9-3 (3-0 Big East Independent), NCISAA DII championship
Coaches: Ned Gonet (head coach), Chip Hoggard, Jim Gibbons, Dave Vannett, Darryl Thomas, Trey Lewis, Alex Egler
Contributors: Devon Perry (Sr., CB/SB), Donald Fuller (Sr., RB/DE), Sam Landis (Sr., FB/OLB), Dylan Harris (Jr., QB), Heath Parker (Jr., LB/OL), Calvin Atkeson (Jr., OL/DL), Zach Murphy (Sr., K/P)
The main number: 5 – Number of state championships won by Gonet in his 35 seasons at the helm of the Ravens in nine state championship appearances.
Aug. 19 at Southern Vance, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 26 at High Point Christian, 7 p.m.
Sept. 2 vs. T.W. Andrews, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 9 at Charlotte Latin, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15# at Trinity Christian Fayetteville, 6 p.m.
Sept. 23 vs. Charlotte Country Day, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 vs. Granville Central, 7:30 p.m.
*Oct. 7 vs. Wake Christian, 7:30 p.m.
*Oct. 14 at North Raleigh Christian, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 21 vs. Word of God, 7:30 p.m.
*Oct. 28 vs. Harrells Academy, 7:30 p.m.
Note: *conference game; #Thursday game