RAVENA, NY (NEWS10) — Champions Week rolls on at News10 ABC, as we preview the upcoming season for each of 2021’s section two football champions. Wednesday’s champion comes out of Class B: the Ravena Indians.
The Ravena Indians made an underdog run through Section 2 Class B last season, finishing 10-3 while bringing home their first section title since 2004. This year, they’re not taking anyone by surprise. “You go from the hunter to the hunted,” said head coach Gary VanDerzee. “You now have set the standard and you better believe there’s people out there gunning for you. So step up or shut up.”
Last year’s success even took some of the players by surprise, but they have even higher expectations this year. “We didn’t expect to go as far as we did last year but now we know what our expectations are for this year,” said senior linebacker and fullback Brendin Winfield. “Win the section again and hopefully get past that semi-state final game to the dome in Syracuse.”
There will be a lot of familiar faces back to help Ravena aim for a repeat. They return eight starters on each side of the ball. “We talk about it all the time, the comfort level of coming here,” said VanDerzee. “They’re intelligent kids so they know what we’re talking about, they know what we want to do, they’re asking good questions, and they’re answering questions before we do.”
As far as what the Indians strength will be? Expect to see them flying around all over the field. “The kids we brought up last year gave us that additional team speed and it showed in the playoffs,” said VanDerzee. “They’ve worked in the weight room and they’ve done the things they need to do and gotten a little bit quicker.”
Entering his 40th season at the helm, VanDerzee isn’t slowing down just yet. “I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t enjoy it,” said VanDerzee. “We tease about it, obviously I’ve got the added incentive with my grandson playing and his friends. But again, it’s fun to be out here. It keeps me young. My wife kicks me out of the house and says, ‘Go play with your kids will ya?'”
Ravena kicks off their season at home on Friday night at 7:00 PM against Scotia-Glenville. Tune into News10 ABC this and every Friday night during the football season for highlights, reaction, and more on 1st & 10.