RIPLEY – Going back to the season of 1973, it has become the norm to see football players standing at midfield during Ripley High School Homecoming festivities. Ripley dentist Ted Motes was crowned that year as the first-ever “Mr. Viking.” He was joined on the Memorial Stadium turf at halftime that night by fellow teammates Carl Broscious and Dale Ruben.
The Ripley Homecoming Court 40 years later also included football players. Unfortunately, three of them were donning jerseys but no pads. The three – Austin Hall, Jake Martin and Preston Martin – were considered to be among some of Ripley’s best returning players for the 2013 campaign.
Being without that trio has been difficult enough for new head coach David Tennant and his staff this season. Now consider that it was Class AAA No. 1 Huntington High providing the opposition Friday night.
The highly-regarded Highlanders proved to be the real deal by running away from the Vikings to the tune of 77-7 in pushing their season record to a perfect 5-0 while the Vikings dropped to 0-5.
“Their speed was something else,” said Tennant. “Someone asked me how you simulate it in practice and it’s hard to do.”
Things started well enough for the Vikings Friday night when junior quarterback Trevor Tucker and senior wide receiver Kade Harrison hooked up on a 55-yard pass play that resulted in a touchdown at the 7:22 mark of the opening quarter. Easton Berry added the extra point to give Ripley a brief 7-0 advantage.
The lead and hopes of an upset, though, were short-lived as the Highlanders literally broke the lights out of the scoreboard at Memorial by ripping off the remaining points.
Huntington tied the game less than two minutes later (5:54 of the first) on a 4-yard run by Charles Crawford. Tied at 7-7, the Highlanders went ahead to stay with 4:12 to go in the first when Nick Tubbs scored on an 82-yard punt return (he would also take another punt back for a score in the second quarter from 58 yards out).
Leading 14-7 after 12 minutes of play, the Highlanders then reeled off 28 second quarter points to take a 42-7 lead into the locker room at halftime.
“We played with them for the first three series of the game,” said Tennant. “We showed we could do something and played with the No. 1 team. We played pretty well early, but then things started to snowball. ”At halftime it would be Hall being named the latest “Mr. Viking.” It was surely eating at Hall (who is expected back this week) and the two Martin brothers not to be a part of the actual game action and lend support to their team.
In the second half, it was much of the same. Huntington scored 21 points in the third and added 14 in the final stanza.
Page 2 of 2 - Huntington amassed 693 yards of total offense in the game, with 581 coming on the ground. Three different Highlanders rushed for over 100 yards. Tubbs had 146 on six carries and also scored twice rushing the football, Crawford carried eight times for 134 yards and produced two touchdowns and Daniel Clark churned out 118 on seven touches and scored a TD.
In the air, Clark Wilson completed 6-of-12 for 100 yards and a TD (to Tubbs).
Tucker was 5-for-15 in the passing department for 85 yards. He had the TD to Harrison and suffered one interception. He was Ripley’s leading rusher with 66 yards on 17 carries. Brother Nathan Tucker rushed for 14 yards on five carries.
Besides the TD, Harrison had one more catch that covered 13 yards. Anthony Jarvis, Gabe Hamrick and Ryan Stutler caught the other three passes for the Vikings.
Stutler averaged 16.7 on seven kickoff returns. Harrison returned two, including one of 42 yards.
Defensively, Nathan Tucker was Ripley’s top tackler with eight. Harrison had seven and Harris registered six stops. Stutler had four while Alex Hambrick and Nathan Holley each had three. Zach DeFrank, Brandon Tolley, Jordan Ramsey, Eldrick Millares and D.J. Cummings all had two. Drew Harpold, Caleb Jennings, Freddy Roush, Issac Keefer and Logan Buckalew each collected one.
Caleb Jennings averaged 51.5 yards on two kickoffs and 33.9 on 14 punts.
Ripley begins the second half of the season this Friday seeking that elusive first win at Nitro’s Underwood Field against the Wildcats. Nitro will enter at 1-3.