RIPLEY - It surly wasn’t the way you would script it if you were a Hollywood writer. Of course, the journey has just started for Ripley High football coach David Tennant.
Tennant officially took over the program as its 22nd head coach in June after Jimmy Frashier stepped down after a decade to accept an administrative position at Ravenswood High School.
“I wanted the job badly,” he says. “I felt like it was a good fit for me and I am excited for the future of Ripley Football.”
Coach Tennant is an energetic guy. He has a swift, purposeful walk with legs that carried him as a running back at Wahama High (1999) and later, Ohio University.
Tennant notched a (9-11) record over two seasons at Eastern High in Reedsville Ohio after serving a year on Frashier’s staff as an assistant.
“My first season at Eastern and my first season here were very similar. You establish and implement the things that you feel are important to a winning football program. You have to get everyone on the same page and pulling for the same goals,” said Tenannt.
“My first season there was a struggle and in year two we won some ballgames and really progressed.”
Tennant inherited a (5-5) team with some returning talent. Various injuries plagued the squad of starters from a year ago and many kids had to play both sides of the ball in 2013, for the first time. With the exception of assistant Shane Casto, the Viking coaching staff was brand new.
“I will not make excuses for our poor season. I am the coach and it is my responsibility to put kids in a position to be successful. I own our 2013 season. I am not the type of person to point fingers or blame others. I am the type of person who will stay focused and get us where we need to be,” added Tennant.
The resignation of Arthur Reynolds was made public on December 12 via the Jackson County School Board agenda. Coach Reynolds worked with the Viking lineman in 2013. Reynolds was well liked and respected by the Viking players but health problems lulled him away from the game.
Tennant was tight lipped about other changes within his current staff and it is unclear what changes may occur between now and August, when the 2014 season officially begins.
The Viking skipper believes that developing a top-notch strength and conditioning program is essential for Ripley to see success on the football field. With new squat racks installed in the weight room and more equipment to come, the boys in blue have every opportunity to get stronger and progress.
“Our administration has been supportive of updating our equipment and developing our strength program. Now it is my job to get these kids in here and implement a successful program,” he said.
Page 2 of 2 - Tennant notes the improvement of players like guard Bradley Knotts, who hasn’t missed a workout session.
“Bradley has added 25 pounds across the board (various lifts) and has added significant quickness and speed. He has a great attitude and I need our whole team to buy in to what we are doing. As a group, our offensive line was our most improved players from day one to the end of the season.”
While the Vikings finished (2-8), the most painful loss came at the hands of cross county rival Ravenswood. Mick Price’s Red Devils came into Memorial Stadium, and took the Hatchet back to red and black country where the Vikings had secured it in 2012.
“I can’t put into words how losing The Hatchet has inspired me. It’s a bad taste in my mouth I can’t shake. Ravenswood is well coached and their kids play hard. We have to get the Hatchet back in 2014,” said Tennant.
High school coaches across the country feel heat from parents and community leaders to win. Friday nights become social events within the community. Ripley has always been a football town and probably always will be.
“I can’t say enough about this community. They have been wonderful to my family and I.”
When legendary Viking coach Frank Marino came to town in 1977 he put his stamp on the program when he realized that during that era, straight ahead, smash mouth football would pay dividends for the Vikings. He took what Ripley had an abundance of and turned it into victories. Win or lose, you knew you had tangled with a Marino coached team.
“This is a process. I am goal oriented and I believe in our kids and their talent. I expect us to win games and I want our players to expect to win games,” said Tennant.
Time will tell if the Hollywood ink will mark the pages of Ripley Football history with a successful stroke of success in the Tennant era. The premier is over and the sequel begins in 2014.