|Written by Tom Nader|
|Tuesday, 16 August 2011 00:00|
|Xylon Purkiss was one youth that did not get caught up in cable television’s burst of popularity in the early 1990s.
In fact, it was rare for anyone in his family to get stuck in front of the TV for any extended period of time.
“When I was five years old, my uncles and older cousins would tell us that if we wanted to watch TV, then we had to do 25 pushups during the commercials,” Purkiss recalls.
The older family members were not trying to pick on Purkiss, but it was there way of trying to encourage him and his cousins to get outside and get active.
“We never really wanted to watch TV that much, so we would go outside and play football. We did that practically all day, every day,” Purkiss said.
Judging by the gridiron results of Purkiss’ family, playing football all day, every day fits perfectly.
Ravenna High School football dates back to the early 1900s and as you would expect, the program has produced a long list of memorable players.
Incredibly, nearly half of the names associated as all-time greats in Ravenna history all came from Purkiss’ family tree.
Whether it be Paul Campbell, Sonny Ray Jones or Marcus Sanders, Ravenna’s greatest backfield prep stars all branch back to the top of the family tree and Mosella Sanders.
Mosella was the loving mother of 17 children, with her oldest being born in 1953 and the youngest born in 1977. She lived to be over 100 years old.
Purkiss, who was born in 1988 and is one of Mosella’s great grandchildren, remembers her as one of the nicest woman he has ever known.
“She was very soft spoken, but knew how to get your attention and she really was very compassionate,” said Purkiss.
Dating back to the early 1970s, the Ravenna football program has almost annually starred one of her 17 children or large group of grandchildren and now great grandchildren.
The first name of note that leaps out from the pages of the past is Paul Campbell, who played for Ravenna from 1972-75 and went on to star at Ohio State.
From there, the names come fast and furious, just as the players seemingly were on the football field.
Robbie Jones, Sonny Ray Jones, Michael Coney, Craig Wilmington, Marcus Sanders, Damien Fortson, Jamiran Mack, Deiondre Mack, Paige Williams, Marvin Sanders, Jonathan Davis, Stephon Sanders, Xavier Jones, Roy “Bam” Davis, Blayre Davis, Stephen Wilmington, Roosevelt Wagner, Ryan Wagner, D.J. Jones and Purkiss are just the beginning of the list of Ravenna standouts from the same family tree.
The family holds every rushing and scoring record in the history of Ravenna football.
Marcus Sanders is the name that sits next to most, but Sonny Ray Jones holds the record for most yards in a single game at 445 and Blayre Davis most recently set the mark for most touchdowns in a single game with seven.
“It is really something for our family to be proud of. That we have created such a special football legacy at Ravenna that dates back 40 years,” Purkiss said.
The running joke inside the family is that players better work to get good, because they know they will be competing against three or four of their cousins to be Ravenna’s starting running back.
To reach that level, toughness, along with love and respect for the game are preached from day one, which oftentimes showcases backyard football battles to build players up.
And in some cases to break them down, so they can be built back up and made stronger mentally.
Purkiss tells of backyard games that feature 20 players on each team — all family members.
Entering his senior season with Ravenna this season, running back D.J. Jones got his start in these competitive matchups.
“Marcus (Sanders) was a senior and D.J. was out there playing with us. He had to be in only the second or third grade,” said Purkiss, who said the same group can be found together on Sundays at the United Church of Jesus Christ on Terrill St. in Ravenna. “We knew right away, though, that he was going to be a good player.”
Playing against cousins older than him by double digits, Jones naturally was a bit timid in a game a full-tackle football. He quickly learned how to set up his cuts off the backs of blockers and has been tormenting opposing defenses in real-time games ever since. He rushed for nearly 1,500 yards last season, splitting carries in the backfield with his cousin Stephen Wilmington, who also nearly hit the 1,000-yard mark.
Sharing time in the backfield with family is nothing new.
During Purkiss’ senior season, the entire Ravenna backfield include family members. Purkiss was the team’s starting fullback, with Paige Williams at tailback and Marvin Sanders under center as the quarterback.
Just a couple years later, it was the trio of Jonathan Davis, Blayre Davis and Roy “Bam” Davis that were a blur coming out of the backfield for the Ravens.
“No one in our family cares about who got the ball when. We just always want to win,” said Purkiss, who alongside Paige Williams, return to Ravenna this season as assistant coaches on Jim Lunardi’s staff.
The friendly family competition leads family legend Marcus Sanders to say, “I cant’ wait until one of them breaks my records. I want them to. I really do.”
After Jones completes his senior season in 2011, the Ravens varsity program will likely be without someone from the family for the next three years.
However, the absence will not be permanent for a family that will be forever linked to Ravenna football.
|Written by Coach Harris|
|Monday, 03 November 2008 13:32|
|While it is obvious that the defeat last Saturday night was disappointing to many Ravens and Ravens fans, it is not so obvious that the Ravens had an incredible record breaking season! This was the first time that Ravenna attended the state playoffs, in a consecutive season, with the Ravens only making it to the state playoffs twice before in school history. Then we have Blayre Davis, who has run the ball 194 times for 1264 yards, received 21 passes for a total of 291 yards, passed 6 times for 108 yards and scored 25 times for a total of 150 points during the regular season. The stats has earned Blayer a place in the Ravens Record books;
All of which was not obtainable without the assistance of the offensive linemen, receivers and other running backs on the field. Many other players in the ranks of the 2008 – 2009 Ravens team are worthy of recognition: Tyler Bennet, with 28 extra point attempts and seven field goal attempts, raking in 40 pts for the season!
Hubbard knocks Ravenna out of playoffs with 40-12 loss
HUBBARD – For the third time in 10 years, Ravenna was unsuccessful in winning a game in the first round of the high school state playoffs.
On Saturday, Ravenna (7-4) fell to Hubbard (9-2) in the opening round of the Division III, Region 9 playoffs by the score of 40-12
The Ravens have only to look in the mirror to see how the game got away from them. There were four interceptions, two lost fumbles and two key first downs given to the Eagles via a personal foul.
“Hubbard is a good football team,” said Ravenna head coach Jim Lunardi. “We couldn’t give them extra chances like we did. I think our kids got frustrated when several key players went down with injuries during the game,” Lunardi said. “We’re not that deep. We have a lot of young players.”
Late in the first half, Ravenna had a chance to tie the game. Trailing 13-6, the Ravens moved the ball to the Hubbard 1.
Three tries left the ball short and Hubbard took the ball over.
“In that situation, we have to score,” said Lunardi. “I told the line what was at stake. We just didn’t get it done.”
Ravenna stuffed Hubbard on three straight plays, forcing a punt with 1:24 left in the half. It was a bad punt, allowing Ravenna to take the ball over on Hubbard’s 27.
With no timeouts left, Ravenna quarterback Josh Chechak moved the team to the Hubbard 2.
However, an interception in the end zone with seconds remaining in the half by Hubbard’s Sam Bellino was returned 103 yards to give Hubbard a 19-6 lead.
It was the turning point of the game.
At the start of the second half, Hubbard had the ball. On the first play from scrimmage, the Raven defense cheated up on the line of scrimmage.
Hubbard running back Andre Givens spilt the defense and ran 66 yards for a touchdown. Now it was 26-6.
On Hubbard’s next possession, the Eagles scored on a 40-yard pass from quarterback Matt Shelton to Tommy Jackson.
Then, Shelton scored on a 13-yard scamper in the early part of the fourth quarter to complete the scoring for Hubbard.
Ravenna got some satisfaction late in the game when Chechak hit Jamiran Mack on a 5-yard pass.
Chechak completed 16-of-31 passes for 176 yards. It was an impressive performance for a sophomore who had to take over the quarterback duties early in the game after starting quarterback Zack Thomas was forced out of the game with a leg injury.
Senior running back sensation Blayre Davis was held to 59 yards in 11 carries. The Ravens never got their vaulted running attack going as the final stats had just 92 yards rushing for Ravenna.
Original Article can be found at: http://www.recordpub.com/news/sports_article/4457980
|Written by Don Dreger|
|Thursday, 30 October 2008 19:00|
|For the second consecutive year, Ravenna High School is in the Division III football playoffs. This season, the Ravens will play at Hubbard on Saturday night at 7 p.m. against the 8-2 Eagles, a member of the All-American Conference.
Ravenna earned its way into the playoffs with a 7-3 record and finished sixth in Region 9. Hubbard was third in Region 9.
It’s hard to compare the two schools as there are no common opponents. Hubbard had victories over Warren John F. Kennedy, Howland, Salem, Lakeview, Brookfield, Youngstown East, Struthers and Niles McKinley. Ravenna, on the other hand, beat Streetsboro, Canton South, Norton, Southeast, Crestwood, Coventry and Springfield.
According to Ravenna coach Jim Lunardi, the Ravens are healthy for the most part. Missing from the lineup is senior center Josh Boettler with a broken arm, while senior wideout Jamiran Mack is probable after missing the final two games with an injury.
“Our kids are rejuvenated from the season,” said Lunardi. “After we lost to Field, the kids were down. We bounced back against Springfield and made the playoffs.
“I told the kids this is a new season. It’s one game at a time. We have as good of a chance as anyone. We’re one of eight teams that qualified.”
“So this year, a lot of our preparation is mental. We must not make mistakes. We have some talented kids and we need to make some plays.”
The difference could be Ravenna’s outstanding senior running back, Blayre Davis. In a win over Southeast this season, all Davis did was run for 356 yards in 21 carries and score seven touchdowns on runs of 4, 38, 2, 57, 13, 25 and 63 yards. Davis also caught two passes for 11 yards and returned two kickoffs for a total of 50 yards in that game.
The Ravens have a lot of team speed. Several players can go the distance for a touchdown. It’s more than a one-man team.
On defense, the Ravens swarm to the ball. Tackling will be the key. The coaches have put the players in position to make plays, but it has been execution that has been a problem.
For Hubbard, 180-pound sophomore running back Andre Givens has gained 1,004 yards in 180 carries for a 5.58 yards-per-carry average.
At quarterback is 6-2 junior Matt Shelton, who has completed 42-of-86 passes for 723 yards. Senior Danny Bellino has also seen action at quarterback, completing 24 passes for 456 yards. The top receiver is sophomore Danny Duvall, who has caught 15 passes for 337 yards.
Hubbard has scored 29 points per game while Ravenna is averaging 30 points per game, which could make for a tight game.
Original Article can be found at: http://www.recordpub.com/news/sports_article/4456541?page=0
|Written by Beacon Journal Staff Report|
|Tuesday, 30 September 2008 20:02|
|The Senior Combination of quarterback Neal Seaman and receiver Brandon Mathie connected for three touchdowns Thursday night to lead host Louisville over Ravenna 29-15in the opening football game for both teams.
Seaman completed 21 of 31 passes for 230 yards. Mathie had nine receptions for 134 yards.
The tandem hooked up on scores of 25, 23 and 20 yards. Louisville senior Dane Mathie rushed for a 35-yard touchdown and had 135 total yards on 26 carries.
The Leopards led 14-0 at halftime, but the Ravens closed the deficit to 21-15 heading into the fourth quarter.
Seaman and seniors Bryan Kuhn and Marcus Samblanet each had an interception for Louisville.
Ravenna Senior Blayre Davis rushed for one touchdown. He was limited to 29 yards on 11 carries. He had 71 receiving yards on four catches.
|Written by Tim Rogers|
|Thursday, 25 September 2008 19:00|
|They kept giving Blayre Davis the football and he kept scoring touchdowns.
That might be an exaggeration, but high school football fans in Ravenna are still raving about Davis’ performance last Friday when the talented running back broke a school record that had stood for 59 years by scoring seven touchdowns in a 52-34 victory over Southeast.
Davis, a 5-11, 180-pound senior, finished the game with 356 yards rushing on 21 carries. That means he scored a touchdown every third carry and gained 16.9 yards on every attempt.
“It was amazing,” said Ravenna coach Jim Lunardi, whose team improved to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the Portage Trail Conference’s Metro Division with the victory. “They had no answer for him.”
Like all smart running backs, Davis credited his offensive line of tackles Jake Bell and Dan McCoy, guards Chris Hudson, Greydon Pavlik and Chad Groves, and center John Boettler.
“They just kept opening up holes, play after play,” said Davis, who now has rushed for 737 yards and 12 touchdowns on 102 carries. “This was a team record. I can’t take all the credit.”
The seven touchdowns broke the old record of five, set by Bob Loftin in 1949 and equaled by Sonny Ray Jones in 1987.
Davis, who rushed for 1,010 yards and nine touchdowns last season, missed tying the school rushing record, also held by Jones, by 89 yards. Double doses: Quarterback Michael Mosley, wide receiver Mikey Bickley and a pair of triple-digit rushing performances sparked Akron East to a surprising 38-21 victory over Firestone in the City Series. Mosley, a 5-11 senior, threw four touchdown passes. Bickley, a 6-0, 170-pound sophomore, caught three of those covering 8, 39 and 55 yards. Senior Lonnie Wilborn rushed for 219 yards on nine carries, and senior Jackie Adams had 129 yards, also on nine carries. Black Tigers roar: Jackson Jones caught touchdown passes of 12 and 19 yards from Dylon Leymon, and junior Chris Shaffer made the play that turned the game with a 92-yard kickoff return to lead Cuyahoga Falls to its first victory of the season with a 28-20 win over North Royalton. Cuyahoga Falls, under first-year coach Mike Miller, had a 14-0 lead when North Royalton got itself into the game with a long scoring drive. That’s when Shaffer got into the act with his decisive return. The victory gave the team a fresh look at the second half of the season.
“That’s what we stressed all week before the game,” said Miller, who inherited a team that was 2-8 last year. “The kids knew we had played a pretty good nonleague schedule and that it was important for us to get the league schedule off on the right track. We told them everybody was 0-0.”
Original article can be found at: http://www.cleveland.com/hssports/index.ssf/2008/09/summitportage_ravenna_back_wow.html
|Written by Don Dreger|
|Saturday, 20 September 2008 05:31|
|The Southeast Pirates threw everything but the kitchen sink at host Ravenna on Friday, but the Ravens pulled away for a wild 52-34 victory.
The difference was Ravenna’s outstanding senior running back, Blayre Davis. All Davis did was run for 300 yards in 20 carries and score a school-record seven touchdowns ” on runs of 4, 38, 2, 57, 13, 25 and 63 yards.
Davis broke the Ravenna records for touchdowns scored in a game, previously held by Marcus Sanders (6 against Brush in 1998), and rushing touchdowns scored in a single game, held by Bob Loftin (5 against Kent Roosevelt in 1949).
Davis scored in every quarter, including two in the final period, when Ravenna iced the game. He became only the 12th player in Ohio high school football history to score seven or more rushing touchdowns in a single game.
“We had no answer for Davis,” said Southeast coach Rick Reynolds.
Ravenna coach Jim Lunardi praised the work of Davis, and the men who made the holes for his star back.
“You don’t make the yardage we did without the guys up front doing a great job,” said Lunardi, whose Ravens rushed for 435 yards. “Left to right the linemen are Jake Bell, Chris Hudson, Josh Boettler, Dan McCoy and Chad Groves. Greydon Pavlik also saw a lot of time in there.”
The first minute of the game was all Ravenna (4-1, 2-0 Portage Trail Conference Metro Division).
Defensive back Zack Thomas intercepted an Anthony Pennington pass on the second play of the game and returned the ball to the Southeast 12. Two plays later, Davis burst in from the 4.
But Southeast (1-4, 0-2) scored the next two touchdowns, as Pennington found wide open receivers all over the field. Nick Hopkins scored first on a 12-yard pass, then it was Taylor Simyak gathering in a 28-yard toss.
“I’m very proud of our kids and the way they took the battle to Ravenna,” said Reynolds. “Our gameplan was to keep Ravenna off the field, and we did that in the first half.”
Ravenna then punted, and the Pirates marched down to the Raven 12.
Southeast tried to punch it in, but the runner fumbled on the goal line and an alert Simyak recovered in the end zone for the third Pirate score. Doug Frances made all the PATs for a 21-7 lead.
“We let them score 21 unanswered points,” said Lunardi. “They only scored 13 more the rest of the game. We were inconsistent on defense.”
To start the second half, Southeast kicked off to the Ravens. The Pirates pulled off a surprise onside kick and recovered the ball.
The strategy worked, as the Pirates quickly scored on a 35-yard halfback pass from Gary Allen to Dan Frances and then on an 8-yard Pennington strike to Simyak. Suddenly it was 34-21 Southeast.
The Pirate passing attack gained 236 yards on 15 completions, while Ravenna had a mere 50 yards passing. Southeast also gained 141 yards on the ground.
“We couldn’t get untracked,” said Lunardi. “It’s a problem we’ve had all year, inconsistent play.”
After the second score in the third period, it took Davis only one play to answer ” a 59-yard run up the middle from a direct snap. Then Davis added another tally near the end of the third period on a bruising 13-yard run off left tackle.
Ravenna took the lead for the first time since the opening minute 35-34 after Tyler Bennett’s fifth PAT.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Southeast tried the hook-and-ladder pass play, where the receiver laterals the ball to a trailing runner after a completion. However, Ravenna’s Xavier Jones got in the middle of the play and recovered the ball on the Southeast 19.
Bennett nailed a 28-yard field goal to move the lead out to 38-34.
On Ravenna’s next two possessions, it took only five plays to score twice, with Davis scampering 25 and 63 yards.
Original Article can be found at: http://www.recordpub.com/news/sports_article/4424982
|Written by Todd Stumpf, Special to The Plain Dealer|
|Thursday, 28 August 2008 19:00|
|The effect Blayre Davis can have on a football game was summed up with the second-half kickoff Friday night. Trying to keep the ball away from the speedy Ravenna senior, Streetsboro went through four kicks and two kickers before successfully getting the ball in play.
Tough to question the Rockets’ strategy, what with the night the Ravens tailback was having.
Davis ran for 141 yards and a touchdown, caught a pass for 17 yards, threw for a touchdown and set up another with a 56-yard run. That was just in the second quarter of Ravenna’s 34-7 nonleague victory over host Streetsboro at Glinatsis Stadium.
“I’m just a little bit happy for a win,” said a tired Davis, who also went nearly the entire way at linebacker. “It was really important to stick it to these guys. Last week [in a season-opening loss to Louisville], we didn’t play too well.”
Davis added a pair of second-half touchdown runs and finished with 245 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries.
Davis worked out of the I-formation, out of the shotgun, split outside. When Davis didn’t run the ball, the Rockets (1-1) chased him anyway.
Play-fakes to the tailback led to sizable gains for quarterback Zach Thomas (59 rushing yards, one touchdown; 68 passing yards), be they on keepers or through the air.
“His presence on the field, if I’m the defensive coordinator at an opposing school, I’ve got to know where he’s at,” Ravens coach Jim Lunardi said. “We never line him up at the same spot.”
Davis got a lot of help from his offensive line. Seniors Jake Bell, Josh Boettler, Chad Groves and Chris Hudson, and junior Dan McCoy, overwhelmed their Streetsboro counterparts all night.
“A lot of due needs to go to those five guys,” Lunardi said. “Blayre Davis is a talented kid … but those five guys had to open up holes.”
On defense, Ravenna’s McCoy, Hudson, senior Anthony Witherspoon, senior Darnell Howard and sophomore Greydon Pavlik kept the Rockets from going anywhere.
“The guys up front played well,” Lunardi said. “I couldn’t be any more proud.”
The teams played a scoreless first quarter, but Ravenna (1-1) dominated from that point. Davis ripped off a 56-yard run on the first play of the second quarter, setting up a 1-yard TD plunge by Thomas.
After a Parnell Taylor interception on the Rockets’ next play gave the Ravens the ball near midfield, Davis broke off a 35-yard sprint. He followed that by lofting a 22-yard TD pass to a wide-open Jamiran Mack after the entire Streetsboro defense bit on what looked like a sweep.
Davis finished his prolific quarter with a 1-yard scoring run. By halftime, he had more than 240 yards of total offense. The Rockets had 52.
The Rockets’ lone touchdown came on a 4-yard pass from Carrington Hanna to Cory Lanterman midway through the third quarter.
Original Article can be found at: http://highschoolsports.cleveland.com/game/news/152334/article/19742/
Jaymes Taylor was a senior defensive lineman. He will attend Hiram College and play football for the Terriers! Jaymes is seen here with his mother Ann Taylor and sister Chelsei Stamper as he signs his letter of intent.
Mike Petrone played as a tight end and weak side linebacker for the 2007 Ravens. He will be attending Mount Union College to play linebacker. He is pictured with his mother Karen and father Rick Petrone.
Roy Davis, an All State linebacker will be attending Grand Rapids Community College to play linebacker for the Raiders! Roy is seen with his mother Cassandra Davis as he signs his letter of intent.
Brad Hager will be joining Roy Davis at Grand Rapids Community College to play defensive tackle! Brad is pictured with his mother Teena and his father Clyde Hawkins. Roy and Brad will room together at Grand Rapids Community College (Oh NO!).
|Written by Tom Nader|
|Tuesday, 12 February 2008 19:00|
|Ravenna football standout Jonathan Davis made his commitment to Bowling Green official on Wednesday when he announced he would be continuing his football and academic careers for the Falcons.
Davis (5-foot-11, 170 pounds) helped lead the Ravens to a Portage Trail Conference Metro Division championship in 2007.
He was named a First Team All-Metro Division performer, and Ravenna’s team offensive MVP after a season where he established himself as one of the most versatile players in Northeast Ohio.
Bowling Green head coach Gregg Brandon said his team recruited Davis as a defensive back, but ultimately, is very excited about Davis’ overall potential.
“Jonathan is a player that has incredible versatility on the football field,” Brandon said. “We recruited him as a DB and that is where he will start (within our program), but I have to say, I liked what I saw when he had the football in his hands offensively during high school.”
For the Ravens’ this past Fall, Davis split time a variety of positions on offense.
His primary spot was in the backfield where he rushed for nearly 1,000 yards on only 85 carries (9.8 yards per carry average) and scored 12 touchdowns — all while sharing the rushing load with Blayre Davis.
Additionally, Davis also played quarterback and wide receiver at times for Ravenna.
According to Brandon, it was more than Davis’ talent on the field that caught the eye of his program.
“Aside from his physical abilities, Jonathan is just a quality kid all the way around,” Brandon said. “His mom did an incredible job raising him, because he is extremely polite. He is the high character type of person we are proud to have added to our program.”
Of Bowling Green’s 18 signees on Wednesday, Davis is one of 12 that came from an Ohio high school. “I’ve got nothing but great things to say about Jonathan Davis,” Ravenna head football coach Jim Lunardi said. He’s a class act, and we’re very proud to send him off to Bowling Green.
“This will make all the difference in his life, and that’s what we’re in education for,” Lunardi said. “He’ll be a totally different person by having this scholarship and it affects everyone. It affects him, his family, the program, and he’s better off for it.”
Original article can be found at: http://www.recordpub.com/news/article/3270982