On September 14th, 2018, the Atholton High School football team and students partook in a once in a lifetime event, coming back from a 21-7 4th quarter deficit to score an overtime win against rival school Reservoir, and did it while playing in the Ravens Rise game of the week.
The Ravens Rise is a weekly contest hosted by the Baltimore Ravens in which three high school football games are nominated for the Ravens game of the week. Students then vote on the games and the game that closes with the highest number of votes wins the contest. Atholton football coach Justin Carey stated that a Howard County game is nominated for this event every two years; the last time Atholton was nominated was for their 50th anniversary homecoming game.
At the game, two Ravens cheerleaders came out for the game along with the mascot and a few other members of the organization. Max Psillas, the man who is in charge of this event for the Ravens, says that the only time players come out for the event is if they have a personal tie to one of the schools and that it has happened “once or twice” but said that “it’s tough to get them out on a Friday night during the season.”
Lots of Ravens items, including two memorabilia items signed by players, were given away at the event as well. The week they were at Atholton the Ravens raffled off a Matthew Judon autographed football and a Tony Jefferson autographed mini helmet.
Additionally, the Ravens donate $1,500 to each school’s athletic department. According to Max Psillas, the Ravens hold 10-12 of these events from the start of the season to the end. He says they decide the schools at which to hold the game by narrowing it down to three games per week, and notifying the schools of their nomination, so students and teachers can vote on the Baltimore Sun. The school that has the most votes wins the contest. He added that the Ravens choose to do these events in order to “get our name out there and support youth football.”
New Atholton principal Robert Motley commented that he didn’t have much of a role in it outside of trying to get people to vote for the event, even though he did need to okay the nomination. He said that Athletics and Activities manager, Mr. Senisi, was the one responsible for setting up and coordinating the event with the Ravens. Mr. Motley added that he was “over the moon,” and “super-thrilled,” when he found out that they had won.
“The festivities are good and all, but the ultimate goal is to win the game,”
Although the Ravens Rise event is a big deal, Coach Carey and player Sean Billups emphasized that they were focused on getting a win more than anything else, so prep for the game was the same as always. “The festivities are good and all, but the ultimate goal is to win the game,” said Coach Carey. Sean Billups said the game did feel very different from others because they didn’t want to lose in front of “our friends, family, and Raven sponsors,” but added that he and the team didn’t let it get to them so they could execute plays well without stress.
However, Coach Carey added that he was “excited for the publicity it [the Ravens Rise event] brings our school and our community.” He says that he wants to show Maryland “who Atholton is” since he feels that we have “a good product athletically and academically.”