While watching South Charleston take care of Nitro (63-20) last Friday night on the road at Underwood Field, former Black Eagle head coach Bryce Casto made this assessment of John Messinger’s latest edition of the orange and black.


While watching South Charleston take care of Nitro (63-20) last Friday night on the road at Underwood Field, former Black Eagle head coach Bryce Casto made this assessment of John Messinger’s latest edition of the orange and black.

“They’re young, but they’re talented. They could slip into the playoffs and be the type of team no one wants to play.”

Casto, a former Ripley High three-sport standout, knows well of the talent lurking in the South Charleston High area. He enjoyed a successful run as SC’s head football coach in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

In 1994, his Black Eagles captured the Class AAA state championship over University the first year in which the Super Six made its way to Wheeling Island Stadium. SC knocked off the highly-regarded DuPont Panthers in the semifinal round. A DuPont team featuring loads of talent, including future NFL players Randy Moss and Bobbie Howard.

Now the vice president for student affairs at West Virginia State University, Casto feels SC is getting better as the season goes along and poses danger for many.

Casto’s high school alma mater is next up for the Black Eagles. Ripley, coming off its third win of the season last Friday with a win over St. Albans, invades Oakes Field tomorrow (Friday) night for a showdown with the now 4-4 Black Eagles.

Another Ripley High graduate, who now serves as the Viking head coach, is also impressed with South Charleston.

“This is a typical South Charleston team,” said Jimmy Frashier. “They may not be as good as they’ve been, but they’re a good football team.”

From 2008-10, South Charleston won 38 of 41 games and garnered back-to-back Class AAA state titles. Last year, on the field at least, SC earned a trip back to Wheeling for a shot at a third straight crown, but was stripped of the opportunity thanks to a messy fight in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs with Hurricane. Court battles from every angle ultimately kept SC home for the title game and sent Brooke (the team they defeated in the semifinals) to Wheeling for a battle with Martinsburg (which won the AAA championship).

As the season started, it appeared as though SC was still sleep walking from the end of the 2010 campaign. The
agles started the year 1-4, which included a 61-0 spanking at the hands of GW in the season opener. The following week the Black Eagles bounced back to defeat Riverside (37-23), but then three more losses followed against Spring Valley (35-14), Cabell Midland (27-21) and Capital (28-6).

Besides Nitro, SC’s three-game winning streak also includes wins over St. Albans (32-22) and Lincoln County (55-12). After Ripley, SC meets Parkersburg in its regular season finale.

“They move the ball well,” said Frashier. “The key to beating them is holding down their speed.”

In recent years, Frashier’s teams have hung tough for a while with the Eagles before succumbing to that aforementioned speed.

Sophomore quarterback Jon Alexander appears to be settling in and looks to have a bright future. He’s thrown for 713 yards, completing 58-of-108 passes. Nine of his completions have gone for touchdowns while nine have been picked off.

In the backfield, junior Trevond Reese has rushed for 642 yards on 86 carries and scored five touchdowns.

In fairness to this Black Eagle team, the slow beginning to the season could certainly be attributed to dealing with some of the horsepower lost from the 2010 campaign. Quarterback Tyler Harris, who won the Kennedy Award as the state’s top player in 2009, wide receiver Pierria Henry, who earned a basketball scholarship to Charlotte and Moe Makhene all graduated. Harris scored 21 touchdowns, while Henry and Makhene combined for 111 catches and 22 scores.

Still, few felt the Black Eagles under the guidance of Messinger, who is 55-15 as SC’s head coach, would be so abysmal early.

But things are changing and Frashier and company are more than ready to meet the challenge.

The showdown with SC comes after Ripley’s 22-0 clocking St. Albans last Friday night at Memorial Stadium.

“It was nice to see,” said Frashier, as his team improved to 3-5 and kept its hopes alive of a break-even season. “We got after it. I was really proud of the way we played for four quarters.

“They were relaxed. They played the game of football. They played the game the way it is supposed to be played, they enjoyed it. It’s the most enthused we’ve been since Parkersburg South (the season opener). The kids were flying around. The defense was where they needed to be.”

Being in position defensively will be a key to stopping the potentially explosive Black Eagles Friday. Offensively, controlling the clock will be just as important for it will keep that offense off the field.

If the Vikings can be solid in those two areas of the game they could be a Ravenswood victory away from a 5-5 mark 2011.

PRE-GAME NOTES – The area continues to send out a speedy recovery to long-time Memorial Stadium public address announcer Mike Ruben, who is recovering from a stroke...Ruben is now at a rehabilitation center in Parkersburg...South Charleston leads the series with Ripley, 10-3-1...Last year the Black Eagles defeated the Vikings, 48-7...Ripley will enjoy an open date next weekend before closing out the season at home in the Hatchet game with Ravenswood at Memorial Stadium...Prior to the game former Viking head coaches, Robert “Red” Hill and Steve McMillion, will be inducted into the Ripley High School Viking Football Hall of Fame...Frashier is hopeful that several former players will return to be a part of the induction ceremony...He said plans are underway for a gathering in the team fieldhouse before, during and after the game