Home, Sweet Home.
After two road games, the Ripley Viking football team will be inside the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium tonight (Friday) to host Riverside.
Fresh off a win against Buckhannon-Upshur (27-12), the Vikings will get to do so on a fresh new artificial surface.The victory followed a season-opening defeat by Parkersburg South.
The old turf, which was placed down in 2004, was taken up back in June. The finishing touches on the new surface took place last week.
“We are really excited about playing at home for sure,” said Viking head coach Eddie Smolder. “We will be playing on our new turf. We first got on it to practice on Monday. It’s really nice. It’s soft and it is beautiful.”
The Vikings will set out to produce a victory on the new turf against a winless Warrior team.
Riverside has lost to Beckley Woodrow Wilson (21-6) and Huntington (24-8) to start the season. The Warriors were in both games for a long period of time before succumbing down the stretch.
The Warriors are under the direction of first-year head coach Alex Daugherty.
He replaced Zach Davis, who spent four seasons at the helm of the Warriors before taking off and heading to Nitro. Davis gained the head coaching job at NHS after Ripley native Bryce Casto resigned to become the athletic director at South Charleston.
“Riverside is always tough,” said Smolder.
The last two games with Riverside have been heartbreakers and quite possibly prevented the Vikings from reaching the Class AAA playoffs. Last year the Warriors defeated Ripley at Memorial Stadium, 33-28. The year before at Warrior Stadium in Quincy, Riverside pulled out a 7-3 victory.
One player returning for Riverside this season is Caden Easterling, a dynamic back who rushed for 136 yards on 23 carries last year.
GAME NOTES – Riverside leads the series with Ripley, 9-4…Daugherty, who is only 23 years of age, is Riverside’s fifth head coach in school history…The late Dick Whitman was Riverside’s first and was followed by Ralph Hensley…Those two remain No. 1 and No. 2 in all-time wins for Kanawha Valley coaches…Both enjoyed successful stints at DuPont and East Bank, respectively, before the two merged to form Riverside in 1998…Whitman coached recent Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Randy Moss at DuPont…In its very first year of existence, Riverside played for the state title at Wheeling Island Stadium losing to Parkersburg High…This will be the program’s third game at Memorial Stadium in the span of two years…In addition to the showdown with Ripley, last season’s game scheduled at Parkersburg was moved to Ripley due to the aftermath of a major fire at a one-time plant in the Wood County city…Smoke lingered in the air for days following the blaze…Former Cincinnati Bengal and Super Bowl running back Ickey Woods is going to toss the coin at tonight’s game…While Woods was a great running back during his time in Cincy, he is best remembered for a celebratory dance known as the “Ickey Shuffle”…Former Viking standout Dale Kestner, a First Team Class AAA linebacker in 2003, will be inducted into the Ripley High School Viking Hall of Fame prior to the kickoff…The game will air live on WCEF-FM (98.3) and wcef.com with Brian Johnson, Jeff Waybright and Mark Johnson on the call.