Friday, September 02, 2005

Ravens pair heads overseas with military

John Medeiros , Sports Editor
PETERSBURG - Saturday was a big day for the Virginia Ravens, as the local semi-pro football team pounded its Mason-Dixon Football League rival, the Central Virginia Storm, 37-8 at Cameron Field.
Sunday was a bigger day for two of the Ravens players, as they were deployed overseas from Fort Lee, where they have been stationed.

The duo - Kyle Ahart and Derreck Brooks - will serve their country while stationed in Egypt.
"They are both just kids," Ravens owner Mary Lockhart said. "They thought they might be deployed Saturday and miss the game. They should be back in mid-October."

Lockhart said the players are part of a non-combat mission, serving in a combined forces effort.
According to the Fort Lee Public Information Office, they joined are with the 49th Quartermaster Corps in a training exercise called Bright Star.

Bright Star is an annual multi-national operation which involves soldiers from various units.
The two linebackers joined the Ravens this season upon their arrival in Virginia, with Ahart earning a starting spot on the defense. His aggressive nature on the field moved him up to defensive end, where the former all-state performer at Silsbee High in Texas could use his speed and strength most effectively.

"He started at linebacker, but we had the idea to put this wild man at defensive end," Ravens coach Hal Lockhart said. "He had a game-and-a-half on Saturday. He knew it was going to be his last game for a while."

Against the Storm, Ahart, at just 5-11 and 200 pounds, had four sacks, five quarterback hurries and three other tackles. He lined up on the Ravens side of the ball before the snap, then spent most of his plays on the other side of the ball wreaking havoc.

"He's a super-nice kid with a great personality," Mary Lockhart said. "He just turned 21 in July."
Brooks filled a reserve role with the Ravens before shipping out. The 6-foot, 223-pounder spent a short time at Howard University before signing on for military duty. "He's a youngster," Mary Lockhart said. "He will turn 20 in November."

In their absence, the Ravens plan to add to a 19-game winning streak. If the pair returns from Egypt as expected, they will be just in time to join their team's playoff run. "I'm not sure they even know exactly when they will return," Hal Lockhart said. "They might be back by the playoffs."

All around the team would like the two players back as soon as possible, and are also hopeful they come back safely.

* The Ravens are in the process of having Leslie "Tank" Washington's interception return certified as a national football record. Washington went from the back of his end zone to the Storm's goal line, a distance of 109 yards - the most possible on a football field.

"With a national record, you have to prove it," Hal Lockhart said. "We have the videotape from the game to show it."

* John Medeiros may be reached at 722-5151.
©The Progress-Index 2005

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