Whether you are a first-year head coach like Eric Hupp or, a fourth-year leader like Eddie Smolder, the feeling is the same – both can’t wait to get started. And what they are starting is a new football season.
The grand old game of high school football in West Virginia is still about four weeks out from kicking off, but the last phase of getting set for a new year of competition is set to take place starting Monday (or, very early Monday in Ripley's case).
Both Hupp’s Ravenswood High Red Devils and Smolder’s Ripley High Vikings will hit the practice field this coming week for four more weeks of preseason work before getting things underway on August 24.
Ravenswood will open its season at home against Wahama to launch the Hupp era while Smolder takes his Vikings to Parkersburg South.
“I can’t wait,” said Hupp.
Of course in recent years, preseason workouts haven’t quite resembled your father’s grueling two-a-days from yesteryear.
These days, high school football teams aren’t permitted to have back-to-back two-a-days.
Smolder likes to break his practices into a pair of smaller windows that almost resembles a game. The Vikings will practice (ala first half), take a break like a halftime and then go back at it for the second half on certain days.
The Vikings are going to have their traditional "Midnight Madness" again this year.
“I like to get the kids out, get a little jump-start,” Smolder said.
The Vikings will then come back Monday and practice at 11.
Most days, practices will get going at 8:15.
Ripley will have to utilize the school’s baseball facility – Viking Park – for the first several days until the new turf is ready to go at Memorial Stadium. “It’s probably going to be another week or so,” said Smolder, the former Viking and Marshall standout.
Hupp wants to stress conditioning in the first week and continue to tweak what has been installed thus far for his first Red Devil team from an offensive and defensive standpoint.
“We took advantage of five of our flex days and got a lot in,” said Hupp, who has been around Ravenswood football as a middle school coach during his career and has also served as head wrestling coach.
Hupp is coming back to Ravenswood football after working two years as an assistant at Southern Local, just across the river in Racine.
Southern is one of the schools that will be on Ravenswood’s schedule this season. The Devils will entertain the Tornadoes on October 5 at Flinn Field.
“We are excited about the upcoming season,” Hupp said. “We’ve had some great work.”
Hupp and his coaches were busy this past week in a fundraising project at the Jackson County Junior Fair.
He’s ready to get going and feels there’s a lot of excitement heading into the new season.
Smolder is eager to get back on the field.
“We’ve lifted and conditioned all winter. Did the three weeks (in June). Now it is time to for the next step.