“Sweet Home Memorial Stadium.”
Maybe it doesn't have the same ring to it as the hit song, “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynrd in 1974.
But make no mistake, there's always a bit of a sweet sound (and feel) to games played at the home venue for Ripley Viking football each season.
“Sweet Home Memorial Stadium.”
Maybe it doesn’t have the same ring to it as the hit song, “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynrd in 1974.
But make no mistake, there’s always a bit of a sweet sound (and feel) to games played at the home venue for Ripley Viking football each season.
And it’s even a bit sweeter in 2017.
Eddie Smolder’s third Viking team will get to enjoy the “Sweet Home Memorial Stadium” six times during the regular season.
It starts Friday night with Parkersburg South invading in the season opener for both teams.
Normally, teams play five home/five away in a given season. But Ripley’s 2017 Vikings will get the bonus of having a luxury suite at Memorial Stadium six times this season.
“I told our kids, ‘You guys have got six home games. The first three games of the year are at home. Now you’ve got to want it more than the other team. That’s what it comes down to,’” said Smolder prior to his third opener as the football leader of his alma mater.
Ripley opened its season in 2016 with a win over South, 14-7. It’s a loss that played a part in keeping the Patriots out of the playoffs.
South finished 17th (the top 16 make the postseason) in the final Class AAA ratings last November with a 5-5 record.
The playoffs, of course, are the goal of all teams in West Virginia.
Ripley hasn’t been to the postseason since 2009.
The additional home game this season is something Smolder feels his team needs to take advantage of in order to get there. Ripley was 20th in the final ratings last year at 4-6. The Vikings lost one game by two and another by four.
“I’m excited about our possibilities and chances,” said Smolder. “Our plan is to play as hard as we can for 48 minutes, let it fly. There’s no holding back now. It counts. It’s the first game of the season.”
South will bring back a team with plenty of familiar faces.
Mike Eddy is now in year five as South’s head coach.
He knows that the kids involved with the program at the present time have all been there under the guidance of his staff.
Brayden Mooney (6-0, 195, jr.) won the battle for the quarterback position in the preseason.
Other players Eddy will count on this season are center/linebacker Avery Eddy (6-0, 200, sr.), the head coach’s son, and running back/linebacker Nick Yoho (6-0, 190, jr.).
Smolder’s Vikings are coming off preseason scrimmages with Herbert Hoover and Capital.
“We’ve got to take another step forward like we did last week,” he said.
Smolder knows all season openers are important and this one is no different. Especially since it launches the beginning of six at home.
“I said, ‘You’re going to let a team come to your house and take away what you’ve worked for?’ That doesn’t sit well with me, and it never has. That’s the reality of football.”
Smolder thinks his team is ready.
“They’ve gotten stronger and faster. They just have got to come out and want it more.
“We’ve been working on South for a long time,” he said. “I’m excited, hopefully our kids are.”
NOTEBOOK – Former great Calvin Ball will be in ducted into the Ripley High School Viking Football Hall of Fame prior to the game…Ball, a 1967 graduate, was a durable running back for head coach Steve McMillion during his Viking playing days…He went on to play four years at four positions under four different head coaches at Marshall…McMillion, by the way, became the first-ever head coach in South history starting with the 1967 Patriots….Viking senior fullback/linebacker J.T. Kemp will be going against his old team in Friday’s game…Both starting quarterbacks are named Brayden – Ripley’s Brayden Campbell and South’s Brayden Mooney.