By Adam Knorr
For Ravenna the most recent rough years were 2011 through 2013, when the Bulldogs went 5-5, 4-5 and 4-5. They returned to elite status last year, posting an 8-3 record and advancing to the second round of the playoffs.
The Bulldogs have a lot of players back from that team and are expected to be very good again. That was very clear in their 62-7 whipping of Kent City in Week 1.
Last year was Montague’s turn to take a dive. The Wildcats finished a painful 2-7, after making the playoffs every year since 2000.
But Montague showed signs of reviving last week, downing a respectable Orchard View team 35-13.
Are the Wildcats ready to join Ravenna, Whitehall and defending champion Oakridge in the league title race?
They will get a chance to prove it Thursday at home at 7 p.m. against Ravenna, and they will have their hands full.
Montague will have to find a way to stop Ravenna tailback David Thompson, who was a wide receiver the previous two seasons. He shined in the season opener, rushing for three touchdowns of 55, 40 and 14 yards, and catching another 36-yard TD pass.
Thompson finished with 229 yards rushing, while quarterback Nick Castenholz threw for 87 yards and two touchdowns. Tailback Korson Mundinger also rushed for two touchdowns.
“It was good for (Thompson’s) first game of the season being the featured tailback, but he’s still got a lot to learn,” said Ravenna head coach Dave Smith. “Mundinger is going to be just as capable and talented. Both those guys are going to have good seasons because the offensive line in front of them is a very good line.”
Based on the last week’s results, Montague may be able to match up with Ravenna when it comes to potent ground games.
Wildcat senior quarterback Jacob Buchberger rushed for 190 yards and a touchdown, while fellow senior Cameron Brayman ran for 159 yards, including four touchdowns, one of them a 71-yarder.
On the less positive side, Montague, like many teams in the first week, was plagued by untimely penalties and turnovers.
“Week ones are always weird,” said Montague Coach Pat Collins. “But if you want to keep winning you’ve got to clean that stuff up. Effort penalties are one thing but brain penalties are another. We try to work one the mental lapse ones.”
The two teams matched up last year in the third week of the season. Ravenna walked away with an 18-14 win to contribute to Montague’s 0-6 start to the season.
“Our kids know this is a big game,” Smith said. “Montague played us tough last year and they’re a much improved team. Our kids are talking a conference championship but they’ve got to win this one first. They know it’s a chance to show they’re a force to be reckoned with.”