The votes are tallied and the Ravens RISE High School Football Showdown series is all set for a fifth season, starting Friday at Owings Mills when the Golden Eagles take on neighborhood rival New Town.
It’s the first of five selected high school football games that will feature Ravens player, cheerleader and mascot appearances along with giveaways and a chance for the Baltimore-area community to get up close with its favorite professional team.
“As the football team that everybody is following and looking up to, what we have is the best avenue and opportunity to reach high school student-athletes, primarily football,” said Adam Rudel, Ravens marketing and football outreach coordinator. “And I feel it’s our job to get our Ravens players as close to these high school kids to show them their dreams are attainable, to make an impression on them and give them the message to keep working through whatever they may be going through on or off the field.”
Unlike past years, when a week-by-week online poll determined the featured games, a March Madness-style bracket was launched in August with 80 schools participating. Each was placed into one of five 16-team brackets based on geography with fans of the respective schools voting via Twitter and the Baltimore Sun’s website. After a series of rounds with the final one completed last week, the five winning host schools were named: Owings Mills, Francis Scott Key, Woodlawn, Elkton and Glen Burnie.
Rudel said determining the schedule ahead of time with the preseason polls enables the Ravens to better plan and enhance the overall experience for the high school teams and their fans.
On Friday at Owings Mills, the pregame festivities will begin at 5:30 p.m. with the opening kickoff set for 6 p.m.
Ravens wide receiver Willie Snead IV will talk with both teams in their locker rooms before the game, be a part of the coin toss and mingle with fans during the game. Raffles, giveaways and other in-game promotions will add to the excitement with Ravens cheerleaders and mascot Poe also on hand.
“A lot of [Ravens players] are not from the area, so it’s cool to give them an outlet into our community and see what kind of talent is in the Baltimore area on the high school football field,” Rudel said. “So, it’s cool to introduce them to our high school scene and see them draw parallels and the coolest part is to see the local kids light up when our Ravens players are there to see them play.”
After Friday’s game, the remaining Ravens RISE Showdown games are Winters Mill at Francis Scott Key on Sept. 20; Towson at Woodlawn on Sept. 27; Oakdale at Elkton on Oct. 4; and North County at Glen Burnie on Oct. 11.