The football teams of 1968 and 1969 at Ripley High School will always be special to me.

It was those two teams that left a lasting impression on a young boy, who at the time lived in Frozen Camp.

The football teams of 1968 and 1969 at Ripley High School will always be special to me.
It was those two teams that left a lasting impression on a young boy, who at the time lived in Frozen Camp. It’s when football truly became a big part of my life. I was in the second and third grade, respectively, when those two teams took the field at Memorial Stadium. From then on I would eat, drink and sleep not only football, but sports in general.
The ‘68 team finished with a fine 7-3 record. It was a Viking team that stunned the state of West Virginia in its finale by knocking off the 9-0 Ravenswood Red Devils, 12-0, at Flinn Field. Had Ravenswood won that game and finished perfect there was a state title to be had.
The momentum from that win carried over to the following season and the Vikings raced out to a 7-0 start. Injuries set in over the final weeks of the campaign and the Vikings dropped two out of three and missed a chance at a possible first-ever playoff berth. Ravenswood handed Ripley one of its two setbacks, 18-7, at Memorial Stadium, which helped erase some of the painful memories of the year before. (Our very own editor, Greg Matics, helped lead the Devils to the win).
The man guiding those two outstanding teams at Ripley was Ernie Moore, who spent three seasons at the helm of the Vikings.
A few years ago I got to meet Moore for the first time. With my line of work, I’ve had the chance to rub shoulders with some notable people from athletes to actors to singers through the years. It’s been neat, but I’ve never found myself in awe of anyone.
Getting to know Moore, though, was a huge deal for me. After all, this was the first coach who had become a household name in my life. I was never in a position back then to meet Ernie Moore during his days as the Viking leader. If I had, it would have been the equivalent of being introduced to Lombardi or Landry.
After his 15-5 start as a Viking head coach, he had a 2-8 finish in 1970 with a Ripley squad made up of countless sophomores. Sadly, Moore left Ripley after that school year.
He had ventured to Ripley following a successful three-year stint in Caldwell, Ohio where he produced a 22-6-2 record. He departed Ripley and headed back to Ohio as the head coach at Warren Local, where he enjoyed another outstanding stay, winning 34 games in five years. Moore is a member of the Athletic Hall of Fame at both schools.
On Friday night before Ripley’s game against St. Albans, Moore became a member of the Ripley High School Viking Football Hall of Fame.
It’s well-deserved. Not only for his coaching success, but also for his contributions off the field.
Many times sports venues will be referred to as the “House so-and-so built.” Well, Moore played a big part in the building of Memorial Stadium. Literally.
Heading into the season of 1969, Moore was hired to help with the construction of what is now the home side at Memorial Stadium. The addition of those bleachers was the start of making Ripley’s football facility one of the state’s finest. Moore and one of his assistants, Corky Griffith, helped lay the footers for the stadium in addition to other facets for the project.
“It’s been a long time since I was there,” he said. “I can’t wait to see it.”
Of course the stadium also features a facilities building (which Moore says was part of the plans back then). And there’s also a beautiful turf field and track. The place looks a lot different than how Moore left it, but you can bet he’ll be proud.
These days, Moore lives in Braxton County. He left Warren Local after that productive run to take the head coaching position at Braxton County High School and has never left the area.
“I missed West Virginia so bad I couldn’t stand it,” he said. “I would go to coaching conventions in Columbus (Ohio) when I was at Warren and may know just a few of the coaches. In West Virginia, I knew them all.”
Moore played athletics at Parkersburg High. He had a brief stop at Marshall before competing in football, wrestling and baseball at Glenville. Moore started his coaching career as an assistant at Wirt County before heading off to Caldwell.
He entered administration following nine seasons as the head coach at Braxton County. Now retired, Moore is the president of the Braxton County Board of Education. He recently wrapped up a three-year term on the Board of Appeals for the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission.
He’s looking forward to visiting Viking country Friday night. “I got a lot of great perks while I was there,” he said. “They treated me great. I enjoyed my years everywhere I’ve been. I certainly enjoyed my years in Ripley.”
Ripley, meanwhile, enjoyed having him for those three seasons. It will be nice to have him back and see him honored Friday night.