RIPLEY - When the Friday night lights go up in Death Valley at Memorial Stadium tomorrow night, there will something to play for outside of Jackson County bragging rights for another year.
Ripley squeezed out a 17-16 overtime classic last season at Flinn Field. The Red Devils look to return the favor on Viking turf.
Ravenswood stands at five wins and could use a sixth victory over Class AAA Ripley High to bolster their bid for the Class AA playoffs in just the second year as head coach for Mick Price.
For the Vikings, a two win season up to this point has left the Vikings hungry for another victory before they put a lid on a season that has been tough, to say the least.
Five Viking losses have come against teams that are currently No. 1 (Huntington), No. 3 (Point Pleasant), No. 5 (GW), No. 12 (South Charleston) and No. 13 (Spring Valley) in the latest Class AAA ratings. The top 16 teams will enter the playoffs beginning next week.
Price, who is no stranger to championships and post season play, was the architect of two State Basketball Championships and several deep runs for his hoops squads over the years, believes that it has to be put in proper perspective for his team.
“We need this victory. We are hungry to get to the playoffs. I know that coach Tennant’s team is hungry too. They have played some awfully good football teams this season and they want this win badly,” said Price.
Coach Tennant knows the importance of a “Hatchet” victory to the players, school and community.
“I was an assistant here in 2010 and the game was played at Ravenswood. I think that the energy surrounding the game is amazing. It is great for both communities. They had a great team that year.”
Indeed they did. The Red Devils topped the Vikings that night, 35-10, on their way to playing for the Class AA state championship at Wheeling Island Stadium.
“They were stacked. We had the Hatchet and they wanted it back,” he said. “We fought hard in that game.”
Coach Price, one of the Hatchet game’s most passionate endorsers, believes the Vikings are a dangerous team, despite their record (2-7).
“They have some big kids up front and talented skill position guys. They have Martin (Jake) back in the backfield and a quarterback who can run and throw (Trevor Tucker) and then there is the talented Harrison kid. (Kade).
After looking at some film of the Red Devils, coach Tennant is impressed with the Ravenswood defense.
“They swarm to the ball and they hit you hard,” added the first year skipper.
Page 2 of 2 - Since the Hatchet rests in the Viking trophy case, Tennant has gotten a good look at the coveted prize.
His hope is to continue being able to see it any time he likes. That can obviously happen with a Viking win.
“It’s a great, great rivalry and I’m glad to be a part of it.” The meeting could be the first of many for a couple of football coaches looking to crown their team “King of the County” for another year.
The battle for “The Hatchet” kicks off at 7:30 at Memorial Stadium.