CHARLESTON – The last time Ripley’s Jake Martin had played on the turf of UC Stadium things didn’t turn out well.
In August of 2013, Martin, then a rising junior at Ripley High, suffered a broken leg while making a tackle during a preseason scrimmage against St. Albans. The injury would cost him several games that season.
Saturday night, Martin returned to the venue as a member of the South team in the annual WCHS-TV/FOX 11 North-South All-Star Football Classic and his night would end on a much happier note.
In the third quarter, the talented Martin made a diving catch of a tipped pass in the end zone resulting in a touchdown. The TD was the game’s first and ultimately only one in four quarters of sloppy play. Thanks to a powerful first half rain, both offenses struggled on a soggy field throughout the evening.
The South’s 7-0 victory marked the sixth straight for the Cardinals and was the 40th all-time in a series dating back to 1934.
Martin’s 5-yard TD reception was thrown by Westside’s Justin Cogar, who is bound for WVU, and was intended for Cabell Midland’s Alex Childers.
“I was just in the right place at the right time,” said Martin, a standout running back/defensive back during his Viking days who was used at slot receiver Saturday night. “He (Childers) pretty much tipped it right to me.”
Martin also caught a pass in the first half for a 15-yard gain. He carried the ball four times for 18 yards.
The South head coach was Luke Salmons of Cabell Midland.
The former Ravenswood Red Devil great was happy a Jackson County native could help assist in the win.
“Jake’s a great kid. He’s a fun kid to coach. He’s a good one,” said Salmons, who played on the winning North team in 1999.
The South accumulated 192 yards on the ground and 42 through the air. The North had 83 rushing yards and 25 passing.
The North failed to capitalize on some great field position a number of times thanks to South miscues. The North shot itself in the foot with five fumbles. The South had two. Each team had an interception.
Martin was one of four Jackson County players in the game joining fellow Viking D.J. Cummings, who played offensive tackle, Ravenswood’s Rhys Jelich, who played strong safety and running back and Red Devil Ben Johnson, who played in the South secondary.
Jelich carried two times for five yards and had one incomplete pass.
“They were all great kids and we were happy to have them,” said Salmons. “They all contributed in some way.”
Leading the South in this year’s game is something Salmons will always cherish.
“Anytime these kids are having fun, that’s the main thing,” he said. “They’re good kids and it’s all about them. We had a good crowd even though the weather was bad. As long as they (the players) had fun, that’s all that matters. That’s why we coach.”