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Jackson Newspapers - Ripley, WV
  • Lessons learned for Vikings in scrimmage against Athens

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  • RIPLEY – Now that their scrimmage with the Athens Bulldogs is over, the Ripley Vikings have a better understanding of where they can go this season–and what they need to do to get there.
    “The reason you schedule teams like Athens is to find out what you need to work on,” said Viking head coach David Tennant after the scrimmage on Saturday, “There were two things we really looking forward to: how they would accept the challenge of having this team come in and how they would react after the game.  They were down a little bit. We definitely have a lot to look into in these videos.”
    The Bulldogs, an Ohio AAA power, won their division of the Tri Valley Conference last season and are favorites to repeat again this season after returning most of their starters.  The Bulldogs scored on each of their offensive possessions, and were led by their senior quarterback Joe Burrow.  Burrow, a senior, recently committed to Ohio State to play football at the next level, and leads the Bulldogs’ up-tempo, no huddle attack. Ripley struggled at times with the no huddle attack due to their lack of depth, but drastically improved once they got their feet under them.
    “This, by far, was the best high school team I’ve ever faced,” said Tennant, “They have four division one athletes.  I don’t know of any other school we play that has four division one athletes, especially signing with Ohio St., Ohio U., Toledo, all those places.”
    The Vikings also started slow offensively, but played much better once they settled down in their second series.  
    They moved the ball well on the ground during their series, with a three pronged rushing attack of senior quarterback Trevor Tucker, senior running back Jake Martin, and sophomore Chance Morgan.  Two long Martin runs got the Vikings in the red zone, and then Morgan punched the ball in from the goal line for the Vikings only score of the day.
    “We started really slow.  There’s no excuse, we started slow,” Tennant said,  “In the second series, we picked it up and marched it down.  That’s when they realized they were a little bit nervous, but once they realized that this is high school football and we’re not playing the Chicago Bears, they played better.”  
    The Bulldogs up-tempo attack gave the Vikings some problems, which had 18 players suit up for the scrimmage.  However, Tennant and his staff know that they will face that again and again throughout the season.
     “Oh yeah, that’s their thing,” Tennant said, regarding Athens and their up tempo, high speed offensive attack, “When you have a quarterback that can basically go out there, see the defense, look to the sideline, and call his own plays, they have an answer for everything you’re going to do.  But guess what, we’re going to face teams like that during the season.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Overall, Tennant was pleased with his team’s effort, and was happy with how his team responded to one of the stiffest tests it will face this year.  
    “They played hard, they did play hard,” Tennant said of his team,  “There’s some things we did well.  We did drive it down on them and score.  We made some pops.  But Athens is a team that’s going to beat teams 70-0, so there are some things we definitely have to get better at.”
    With the Vikings now having faced perhaps the most talented team they’ll see all year, it will be interesting to see how they respond going forward.  
    The good thing, according to Tennant, is that he and his staff won’t have to wait long for an answer from his players.
    “We’ll see Monday,” Tennant said Saturday, “We’ll see if the leaders lead and we’ll see how they come to practice Monday and see if they want to get better or make excuses.”
    The Vikings will continue on with practice for the next week and a half ahead of their season opener on August 29th, when they go on the road to take on Parkersburg South.

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