He will tug hard on his cap. 

He will take several deep breaths.

But with the lights on and his team about to run onto the field to a sea of red and black clad fans, Eric Hupp will simply have a hard time keeping his emotions in check.

After all, tonight (Friday) brings about the moment Hupp has been waiting on since his late high school/early college years when he made the decision to become a coach. 

As the clock strikes 7:30 p.m. sharp, Hupp will have the headsets over the aforementioned ball cap and it is there on the Ravenswood sidelines when it all finally becomes reality.

Eric Hupp will officially guide the historic Red Devil football program in a game as its the new head coach.

“This is something you dream about,” Hupp said. “You never know if it is going to happen. I’m grateful.”

It’s not like Hupp is just showing up to begin coaching the Red Devils.

He’s been hard at work as the man in charge of Devil football since he was hired in the spring.

“You learn very fast that there are a lot of things to do deal with and you wear a lot of different hats as the head coach,” Hupp said laughing.

He’s not complaining one bit.

And now he’s about to watch his first Devil team in a true game as they take on the Wahama White Falcons in the 2018 season opener.

Like Ravenswood, the Mason County crew will be coming to Jackson County with a new man in charge of the proud White Falcon program.

James Toth, who spent eight years as the school’s head basketball coach and several as the football program’s defensive coordinator, will be directing his first White Falcon football squad in a true contest.

Toth, though, is not a head football coach for the first time. Last season, he guided the program at Class AA Logan.

“I’m glad to be back,” he said in a preseason interview. “I was here for about 15 years and know a lot about the program.”

He knows of its success, including a state championship of Class A in 2012 at Wheeling Island Stadium. Wahama also made it to the Northern Panhandle city in 2010 to play for the title, settling for the runner-up trophy that year.

Toth is hopeful of taking that first step and just getting the school back into the playoffs, where a White Falcon team hasn’t been since 2013. 

Last year under fourth-year head coach Dave Barr, Wahama bounced back from a 0-4 start to win five of its last six games. Barr left to become an assistant coach for Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio.

This season Toth, who didn’t get hired for the job until June, is counting on his first White Falcon squad to build off of last year’s surge.

“I like the attitude and effort of these kids,” said Toth.

The new White Falcon leader was dealing with low numbers (in the 20s) in August but refused to be discouraged. 

“We would like to have more, but we’re going to play with the kids that come out,” he said. 

Among those he was high on were running back Brady Bumgarner (6-0, 169, Sr.), quarterback Abrahm Pauley (6-2, 160 Jr.) and lineman Jacob Fisher (6-2, 200, Sr.).

“We think we’ve got some kids we can build around,” Toth said.

Hupp, who coached at Southern Local in Racine, Ohio the last three seasons, certainly feels he has that same type of situation at Ravenswood. 

The Red Devils return Class A First Team All-State fullback/linebacker Luke Jackson (5-9, 202, Sr.) along with versatile quarterback Max Hilton (5-8, 174 Sr.) from last year’s 4-6 club.

Ravenswood’s line will be anchored by Nick Williams (6-0, 265, Sr.). “We’ve got a good nucleus,” he said, “to build around.”

Last year Ravenswood defeated Wahama 27-12. A big opening kickoff return by Jackson in the game got the Devils going. Jayden Rhodes, who recently graduated, scored three touchdowns in his first varsity football game for Ravenswood. Bumgarner scored one for the White Falcons. 

In two preseason scrimmages with Buffalo and South Harrison, Hupp was extremely pleased with what he saw from his Red Devils.

“Our defense is just playing lights out, just awesome,” he said. “And we’ve done some good things offensively.”

Now it is time to do it for real. 

It begins tonight.

A moment Eric Hupp has been waiting on for a long, long time. 

RED DEVIL GAME NOTES - Ravenswood and Wahama will be meeting for the 59th time tonight...The Devils have captured victory 33 times while Wahama owns 22 wins...The programs battled to three ties...It was the season of 1931 when the two schools met for the first-time ever...Since resuming play in 2014, the two have each captured two wins...Toth is a graduate of Man High School...Hupp is a graduate of Bridgeport High School in Ohio, just across the river from Wheeling Island Stadium...Besides the football championship, Wahama has won four state titles (1996, 1998, 2015 and 2016) in baseball...Of its 10 games, Wahama will play eight schools from Ohio...The school is a member of the Hocking Division in the Ohio-based Tri-Valley Conference...Once upon a time Ravenswood athletics competed a West Virginia-based league known as the Tri-Valley Athletic Conference...Three of Ravenswood’s key players are the sons of coaches - Jackson’s father, Jason, is a long-time Devil assistant, Sam Sturm is the son of assistant Steve Sturm (and the grandson of coaching legend Dick Sturm) and Hilton’s father, Sam, is the school’s head tennis coach...Tonight’s game will air live on WMOV-AM/FM (1360/106.7).