RIPLEY - The Ripley High football team returns to the comfortable confines of Death Valley for homecoming this Friday. They face Roane County for a chance to even their record at (3-3) on the season.
The AA Raiders (3-2) sit in the middle of the pack of the Little Kanawha Conference. They have scored 102 points on the season and surrendered 120.
The have beaten Clay County 20-6, Webster County 15-8 and Braxton County 31-6. They have fallen to Ritchie County 58-12 and to Ripley's cross-county rival Ravenswood 42-24.
Roane is led by on offense by rugged fullback Jon Ash (6' 185), tailbacks Luke Scott (5-7 175), Cody May (6-1 165) and athletic quarterback Hunter Bradley (6-3 165).
Bradley has led the Raiders in rushing twice this season. The junior is not afraid to leave the pocket and take off on a busted play and is athletic enough to turn a supposed loss into a gain for his team. While the Raiders rely on a collective group to sustain their rushing attack Bradley is efficient and fairly accurate with his throws as he completed 6-of-7 passes versus Clay County. He scored on two scrambles versus Ritchie County.
For the Vikings, It has been a rollercoaster ride to this point. The Vikings opened the season with a 44-28 loss to then AAA sixth ranked Parkersburg South. A heartbreaking 20-14 loss to Winfield followed in week two. The Vikings got in the win column with a 48-20 skewering of Nitro and followed that up with a convincing 34-0 dismantling of Lincoln County at Death Valley.
Then came last Friday night. Woodrow Wilson took the Vikings to the shed in a 44-0 blowout at Beckley. Ripley turned the ball over eight times and finished with seven total yards in the game.
For the third week in a row, the Vikings are operating without starting quarterback Trevor Tucker who is out for the season with a knee injury. Jake Martin has admirably stepped in to fill that void. Martin ran for 75 yards and threw for 225 and three touchdowns versus Lincoln County in week four.
Look for the Vikings to rebound in a big way this week and bring their record to (3-3). Ripley will get their offense back on track and regain some lost confidence against a solid Roane County football team.
Ripley tailback Tyler Pittenger and offensive lineman Andy Mellert are 2012 "Mr. Viking" candidates for the Homecoming celebration at Memorial Stadium.
From Mark Martin's notebook: Paul Burdette is in his second season at the helm of the Raiders...He was a Second Team All-Stater back in 1997 when Roane was still AAA...Burdette moved on to play at Glenville...He replaced the likeable Tom Hardman, who guided the program for nine years...Roane hosted a playoff game last year falling to Oak Glen...The year before the Raiders won the school's first postseason encounter by upsetting Point Pleasant.