'TIS THE SEASON: Football season has arrived in the Mountain State. While practices have gone on for the better part of the month, the true season is upon us with game action.
While Ravenswood doesn't get going until next week, Ripley, WVU and Marshall will all see action before the month of August comes to a close.
It's a great time of year. It's even better when there is a chill in the air and the leaves start turning beautiful colors.
COACHING REUNION: Catching some of the action of Ripley's scrimmages with Capital and St. Albans at UC Stadium last Friday during the Mountain State Athletic Conference Grid-O-Rama gave me the chance to catch up with some people – including two gentlemen who served as my head football coaches as a Viking.
As a sophomore, Steve Stoffel, Sr. was guiding the Ripley program. Steve was a great guy who we all liked and respected. After a good run as the head coach for his alma mater Herbert Hoover, where he also served as athletic director, Coach Stoffel retired a few years ago. But he returned to the sidelines last year when his son, Steve Stoffel, Jr, took over as head coach of the Red Dragons. It's always good to see Coach Stoffel.
A little later in the evening while on the Ripley sidelines, sophomore lineman J.J. Mahan informed me that his grandfather, Frank Marino, was actually watching the game action from the parking lot.
It was great to see Coach Marino who has been dealing with some health issues as of late. My last two years at Ripley were spent under his guidance and in the span of 26 years he indeed put Viking football on the map across the state of West Virginia. There were a lot of winning seasons (including the only 10-0 mark in school history) and playoff teams on his watch.
As Coach Marino sat in the vehicle with son-in-law Jim Mahan, a two-time First Team All-State player for Ravenswood during the first two years Coach Marino was at Ripley (1977 and 1978), it was amazing to listen to him talk football and point out things happening out on the field. The man always had a great feel for the game and that had a lot to do with his success.
Here's wishing him good health in the coming days so that he can truly enjoy watching the game he loved and coached for so many years.
A PART OF THE GAME: Injuries are a part of any sport, especially football. The MSAC event afforded me the opportunity to see my cousin, Jake Martin, play for Ripley.
I was talking to his older, Preston, on the sidelines about his return to football and was thrilled to hear he would only have to miss three games in his final year as a Viking. Preston, you may recall, blew out his knee while wrestling for a state championship last February.
No sooner did our conversation end that Jake went down with an injury which turned out to be a broken fibula.
You always hate seeing any athlete lose a season to an injury, when it's your own blood it hurts even more.
All the best to Jake Martin and his recovery. He's a talented young man.
TAYLOR MADE: The Glenville State College Pioneer football team paid a visit to Roane County High School's County Stadium on Saturday. Dave Hutchinson's crew staged an intersquad scrimmage for the fans in the area that evening. Earlier in the day, the players helped with a football clinic earlier for Roane County youth.
It was really a neat event sponsored by Northside Chevrolet of Summersville.
In attendance was former Red Devil football coaching legend Fred Taylor, who captured two state titles during his storied career at Ravenswood. Taylor, who was a graduate of old Walton High School in Roane County, lives in Spencer. Taylor played college football at Glenville and was donning a blue and white #10 Pioneer jersey. I couldn't resist telling Coach Taylor that he looked good in blue and white. He said it was "Glenville blue, not Ripley blue."
Taylor was enjoying the evening with his brother, Paul, who also taught and coached in Jackson County for several years.
TITUS IN RED: Ravenswood assistant football coach Steve Titus, a former standout lineman for Taylor, was in attendance to see his son, Brad, who is a freshman on the Glenville squad. Steve Titus said that Brad, a Class AA First Team All-State linebacker for Mick Price last season, is going to be redshirted. Brad Titus has a bright future with Pioneer program.