For the third time since October, a former Ripley Viking head football coach has died.
And like the two who passed before him – Paul Lanham and Robert “Red” Hill – Ernie Moore will long be remembered as not only a great coach, but a class act and kind gentleman.
Moore, who was 82, died Tuesday in his hometown of Parkersburg following a long illness.
He served as head football coach for Ripley Viking football during the seasons of 1968-70.
Moore is best remembered for guiding his Vikings to an upset win over Ravenswood in the 1968 Hatchet game.
Facing an outstanding Fred Taylor-coached team that was undefeated and on the verge of winning a state championship outright with a 10-0 record, Moore’s Vikings headed to Flinn Field in Ravenswood with 6-3 mark and came away with an astonishing 12-0 victory.
“In all my years of coaching, that is probably the best I ever had a team play,” Moore recalled said during an interview in 2015 prior to his induction into the Mid-Ohio Valley Sports Hall of Fame.
After the 7-3 season of 1968, Moore’s following team reeled off seven straight wins to start the campaign of 1969.
The string of victories ended with a loss to a powerful Point Pleasant team that would finish 10-0. After a win against Parkersburg South, Moore’s Vikings were upset in the season finale with Ravenswood to finish at 8-2.
With a team dominated by a talented sophomore class in 1970, Moore’s last Viking team endured its share of growing pains and closed with a 2-8 mark.
Terry Landis, who was an outstanding quarterback and linebacker on Moore’s 1968 team, remembered his coach fondly when hearing the news of his passing.
“That breaks my heart,” said Landis fighting to get his words out. “He treated us like equals. He valued our opinions. He was always so good to me.”
Landis, who starred in three sports while at Ripley, earned Class AAA First Team All-State honors following that 1968 season. He went on to excel on both sides of the football for four years at West Virginia Wesleyan College.
He had the honor of being inducted into the Mid-Ohio Valley Sports Hall of Fame the same year as Moore.
Another former Viking standout on that 1968 team was long-time Ripley High girls softball coach Kenny Swisher, who called Moore “One of the best.”
Moore graduated from Parkersburg High, where he was a standout in football and wrestling, in 1955. He took his athletic talents to Glenville State College. He continued to play football and wrestle as a Pioneer while earning his degree in education.
He launched his teaching and coaching career at Wirt County High School. While at the Elizabeth-based school he produced outstanding wrestling and track and field teams.
His next stop was Caldwell, Ohio. His Redskin football teams were 22-6-2 over a three-season span.
Next came the Ripley years. Not only is Moore remembered for those seasons of 1968 and 1969, but for being instrumental in helping with the construction of the concrete bleachers on the home side at Memorial Stadium.
“Corky Griffith (an assistant coach) and I poured the footers,” Moore noted during the 2015 interview.
It’s a bleacher project which made Ripley’s venue one of the finest in the state, both then and now. In 1969, Memorial Stadium was the site of the Class AAA state championship game between Buckhannon-Upshur and old Charleston High (now a part of Capital).
It would begin a string of years where postseason football came to Jackson County.
When Moore left Ripley, he took over as head football coach at Warren Local High School (a school where Robert “Red” Hill also served as head football coach years after being at Ripley) and won 34 games in five seasons.
Moore’s final coaching stop was in Braxton County.
Following his coaching days, he was a member of the Braxton County Board of Education.
Besides being inducted into the Mid-Ohio Valley Sports Hall of Fame for his outstanding playing and coaching career in the counties of Wood, Jackson, Wirt and Noble (Ohio), Moore was also a member of the Caldwell Football Hall of Fame, the Ripley Viking Football Hall of Fame and the Warren Local Football Hall of Fame.
An avid hunter, Moore was a founding member of the West Virginia Turkey Hunters Hall of Fame.
When speaking of his days in Ripley during the interview of 2015, Moore said, “I had a good time there. The people were good to me. I hated to leave.”
And so many hated to see him go.
Ever since his departure, those who knew Ernie Moore have and will forever treasure their time they had with him here in Jackson County.