JACKSON COUNTY - It is preferred, of course, that the West Virginia high school football playoffs include the Ravenswood Red Devils and Ripley Vikings.
Unfortunately, the two schools aren't heading to the promised land of postseason play in 2012.
For now, the playoff-like setting the two teams provided this past Friday in the Battle for the Hatchet will have to live in the minds of football followers in the area until next season gets underway.
While the march to Wheeling Island Stadium will be minus the Devils and Vikings, there are some ties to the playoffs, which get underway this weekend, with Jackson County ties.
Class AAA's No.1 team – Cabell Midland – is guided by former Ravenswood Red Devil great Luke Salmons. His second Knight team produced the school's first-ever 10-0 season. Midland will get the postseason going against No. 16 Oak Hill.
The Nicholas County Grizzlies, No. 9 in Class AA, open play Friday night at No. 8 Ritchie County.
The Grizzlies are led by another one-time Devil standout in Gene Morris. Nicholas moved down from Class AAA this year to the Class AA level. Morris hopes to lead the school to its first-ever postseason win.
Adam King, one of Ripley High's best-ever players, is an assistant coach with the Bridgeport Indians. Bridgeport is another school that shifted from Class AAA to Class AA this season. The Indians are the No. 3 seed and will meet No. 11 River View.
The Greenbrier West Cavalier coaching staff features former Ravenswood star Greg (Cub) Curry, who was an outstanding lineman on the 1974 Red Devil team that posted a 10-0 record before falling in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs to eventual champion Stonewall Jackson. Curry, who played college football for West Virginia State, has been coaching in Greenbrier County since the '80s, first at Greenbrier East and now West. The Cavaliers open the playoffs at home on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
Lewis County is the No. 11 team of Class AAA and will go up against No. 6 University. Tim DeRico, who once served as a Ripley High assistant principal, is the principal at Lewis County.
A total of seven teams that dotted Ravenswood's schedule this year are off to the postseason. Point Pleasant returned to Class AAA this year and reached the playoffs as the No. 12 seed. Point plays at No. 5 Morgantown on Saturday night.
Four Devil foes are a part of the Class AA field. Two of those teams – No. 1 Wayne and No. 16 Clay – collide Friday. No. 8 Ritchie County defeated Ravenswood in the final minute this season and will be at home to meet Morris' Nicholas team.
Roane County, one of two teams Ravenswood defeated this season, landed the No. 12 seed and will get No. 5 Bluefield on Friday night. Braxton County downed Ravenswood on the last play of the game and went on to earn the No. 13 spot. The Eagles play at No. 4 Robert C. Byrd Saturday.
Page 2 of 2 - In Class A, St. Marys, the No. 5 seed, will be in a rematch with No. 12 Wirt County trying to avenge its lone loss of the season.
No. 15 Williamstown will see No. 2 Magnolia for a second time this year, falling 24-7 back on August 31.
Three opponents of Ripley this past season – Hurricane, Beckley and Roane County – are in the postseason. Hurricane, the No. 14 team of Class AAA, meets No. 3 GW Friday night. Class AAA No. 15 Beckley must head to Martinsburg for a second straight year to meet the highly-regarded Bulldogs. Roane County is the No. 12 team of Class AA and plays inside historic Mitchell Stadium against No. 5 Bluefield.
Ripley lost to Hurricane and Beckley while defeating Roane.
Interestingly, the Vikings played those teams in three consecutive weeks (Beckley, Roane County and Hurricane in that order).