RIPLEY – It could well be said that football doesn’t officially begin until full contact gets underway.  The Ripley Vikings went over that hurdle on Tuesday, as they began full contact practices for the first time this season.  Things were live on the field at Death Valley, as the players and coaches were able to release some of their pent up energy into tackling drills and scrimmages. Viking head coach David Tennant and his staff was excited to finally get live hitting going, but they still saw some room for improvement.

“There were good things and things we need to work on,” Tennant said, “We had some guys who wanted to hit, but now they realize they have to be under control.  It’s the first day and they haven’t hit for a year or so, but it’s something we can build on.”
There were some bumps and bruises along the way Tuesday, which was to be expected for a team that was just getting into the swing of things physicality wise. Even with those issues, Tennant was still focused on making the most out of full contact.
“We’re working them hard,” Tennant said, “We’re doing things we have to do to get them ready for Parkersburg South.”
Tennant wasn’t necessarily concerned with the lack of depth, and was more concerned with working the players he had at his disposal, including freshmen.  
“The twenty plus varsity guys that we have out are going to play ball,” Tennant said, “You can win with twenty five guys on your varsity team.”
Throughout the summer, Tennant was pleased with his team’s physical play and he discussed what he saw as the carryover to his team’s first live contact of the season.
“Last year compared to this year, we definitely have some head hunters,” Tennant said, “We have some guys wanting to hit, and that’s a good thing.”

Tennant also discussed his team’s effort.
“Well, you could tell they were tired,” Tennant said of his team, coming off the second week of two-a-days, “That’s how you build your practices, you wear them out, but when you think they’re at the point you want them to be, you let them get their legs back underneath them.”  Tennant then stated that he thought his team was at that point.
“Mentally, they were ready to listen,” Tennant said, “There were some mistakes today, but they went full speed.  If you’re going full speed, I can handle little things here and there.”
The Vikings are firm believers in challenging themselves and setting high expectations, and as the preseason continues to roll on, they will face a stiff test in the form of a scrimmage with the Athens (OH) Bulldogs.  The Bulldogs, a Class AAA power in Ohio, went undefeated in the regular season last year and won their division of the Tri- Valley Conference.  Tennant is no stranger to Athens High, as he completed his student teaching there, and he is well aware of the type of football program they’ve built at the school.

“I believe Athens is definitely one of the top teams we’ll play this year,” Tennant said, “I’ve known a lot of those guys for years.  I know what they are, and they are a very good team.  It’s taken years to get where they are, and they have some very good players coming in.  If you have any bit of competitor in you, you want to go up against them.  That’s what I’m trying to steer this team toward.”  
The Vikings will meet the Bulldogs this Saturday, August 16 at Death Valley (Memorial Stadium).  The scrimmage is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m.