RIPLEY -There are always a slew of question marks for high school football teams leading up to the start of a season. One of the most asked for the Ripley Vikings of new head coach David Tennant was, “How will Trevor Tucker’s knee hold up.”
The answer, quite simply, is, “Just fine, thank you.”
Albeit in defeat, the junior quarterback, who missed the last seven games as a sophomore due to a knee injury, put on quite the performance last Friday night against Parkersburg South at Memorial Stadium. Tucker rushed for 235 yards on 25 carries and threw for 136 yards, completing 8-of-16 attempts. Tucker scored once and tossed two TD passes. He did suffer one interception on the evening.
It was almost enough to fend off the Patriots, who were also christening a new head coach in Mike Eddy. Big plays, though, doomed the Vikings as South left town with a wild, 47-35, victory. The Patriots erased an 18-7 halftime deficit to get back in the game and ultimately register the win.
Of Tucker’s performance, Tennant couldn’t have been more pleased. “He showed his durability. He’s a smart kid who understands the offense. It was just a well-called and thought out game plan by (offensive coordinator) Coach (Kemp) Kelly. Trevor played very well.”
Unfortunately, so, too, did Patriot junior running back Brendan Schwendeman, who was the main force for South. The speedster rushed for a mind-boggling 377 yards on 17 carries and scored five touchdowns on runs of 64, 43, 81, 65 and 54.
“The big plays hurt, obviously,” Tennant said. “You see three guys get their hands on him but can’t bring him down. We had a lot of missed tackles and it is something we will work on.”
After Schwendeman’s first TD run in the opening quarter, Ripley answered with a pair of short TD runs by senior wingback Nathan Tucker and Trevor Tucker’s 1-yard pass to Kade Harrison for the halftime lead.
South came out and politely put 20 on the board in the third while Ripley’s only points came on a 21-yard field goal by Easton Berry. The three-pointer evened the game at 21-21, but a 14-yard pass from quarterback Garrett Gilkerson to Cody Smith gave South the lead for good at 27-21 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Patriots produced 20 more points in the fourth quarter. Trevor Tucker’s 4-yard run and TD pass of 31 yards to Harrison accounted for Ripley’s points. Both scores, followed by Berry extra points, got the Vikings to within five (33-28 and 40-35) but they could never get any closer.
In the rushing department, Gabe Hambrick had 32 yards on nine carries while Harrison churned out 31 on three attempts. Nathan Tucker had nine yards on nine carries.
Page 2 of 2 - Receiving wise, Harrison had three catches for 76 yards, Cody Harris hauled in three for 38 while Gabe Hamrick latched on to two for 22.
Drew Harpold returned three kickoffs for 76 yards (25.3) and Harrison brought back four for 69 yards (17.2).
Harris was Ripley’s top tackler with 11. Harrison and Zach DeFrank each had six. Harpold, Austin Hall and Jordan Ramsey each came up with four. Adam Bailey finished with three. Nathan Tucker, Logan Buckalew, Jacob Kay and Alex Hambrick each had two. Ryan Stutler, Brandon Tolley and Trae Stout all came up with one.
While it wasn’t the outcome he was hoping for in his head coaching debut for the Vikings, Tennant left Memorial Stadium Friday night with a lot of high hopes.
“It was an unbelievable atmosphere,” he said saluting both Viking and Patriot fans. “That’s the kind of atmosphere you dream about as a coach. Our kids showed a lot of fight. They showed some characteristics that we can build upon.”