A little R&R for Ripley.

After finishing the first half of the season with a 4-1 record, Eddie Smolder’s Ripley Vikings had an open date arrive on the schedule last weekend. 

It couldn’t have come at a better time.

“We had a good week, we got healed up and rested up,” said Smolder. “We practiced on some things we need to correct.”

Tonight (Friday) Smolder and the Vikings will return to the field with the Princeton Tigers coming to Memorial Stadium. 

It is a Tiger team that has had trouble finding the win column this season. Princeton enters at 0-5.

“They have been beaten by five potential playoff teams,” the Viking head coach said. 

Princeton has lost to Buckhannon-Upshur (21-14), Bluefield (48-0), Parkersburg South (37-0), Musselman (61-28) and Graham, Virginia (49-10).

Of those teams, both Bluefield and Musselman are 5-0 while Graham is 4-1 (with its lone loss coming to rival Bluefield). 

Head coach Chris Pedigo is relying on a passing attack to try and get wins for the Tigers.

Quarterback Ranson Graham, a 5-10, 175-pound junior, is a gunslinger whose favorite targets are Ethan Parsons, (6-3, 170-pound, Soph.), Chirino Cannady (6-2, 177-pound Sr.) and A.J. Jenkins (6-1, 160-pound Jr.). 

Ripley has reeled off four straight wins over Buckhannon-Upshur, Riverside, Marietta, and Brooke, since a season-opening loss to Parkersburg South. The Vikings are currently No. 8 in the latest West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission Class AAA ratings (the Top 16 will make the playoffs at the end of the season).

Smolder realizes this game looks to be a mismatch on paper, but he has stressed to his team that no opponent should be taken likely.

“We are treating it like it is the most important game on the schedule…because it is. It’s our next game. We know that any team on our schedule can line up and beat you,” he said. “We want to get the second half of the season started on a good note.”

Smolder said Princeton is dangerous in a multitude of ways.

“They have size and they have speed,” he said. 

“They are a lot bigger than us and very athletic. They have the ability to hit one pass and be gone. We will have to contain the quarterback. With their size and speed, our defense will be tested.

“We need to bring our ‘A’ game. They (Princeton) have nothing to lose.”

Game Notes

Ripley owns a 2-0 edge in the series with Princeton … The Vikings defeated the Tigers 35-33 and 38-34 in the seasons of 2007 and 2008, respectively … Pedigo is a Princeton High graduate … As a player from 1993-95, Pedigo and the Tigers were 25-5 under head coach Ted Spadaro … Princeton is the county seat of Mercer County … Despite having one of the state’s nicest stadiums – Hunnicutt Field – Princeton is being forced to play six of its 10 away from home … Tonight’s game will be the school’s fifth out of six on the road to start the season … Princeton’s journeys have included a trip to the Eastern Panhandle to play Musselman … A visit to the Northern Panhandle and Wheeling Park will be on the horizon … Princeton is the second school nicknamed Tigers in which Ripley will face the season. The Vikings defeated Marietta earlier … Former Viking standout J.P. Jones will be inducted into the Ripley High School Viking Football Hall of Fame prior to the game … Tonight is Ripley’s next-to-last home game of the 2018 season … Roane County will pay a visit on October 26 … Greenbrier East, St. Albans, and Ravenswood will all be on the road … Ripley and Princeton have a pair of common opponents in Parkersburg South and Buckhannon-Upshur … WCEF-FM (98.3) will bring listeners live coverage with Brian Johnson, Jeff Waybright, and Mark Johnson.