It is never easy losing good seniors from a high school athletic program.
Kevin McClung not only lost a pair of outstanding golfers to graduation who were a part of last season’s Class A State Tournament team but two young men who have taken their game on the links to the collegiate level.
Both Devin Raines and Gavin Fox have moved on from Ravenswood High School to continue playing the game they love while getting a college education. Raines is at the University of Rio Grande near Gallipolis, Ohio while Fox, whose brother Carson golfs at Marietta College, is a member of the Ohio Valley University program in Parkersburg.
“I lost two college golfers,” said McClung, a 1988 graduate of Ripley High School and a 1992 graduate of Fairmont State University.
Raines and Fox were instrumental in Ravenswood reaching the State Tournament, which was played at Ogelbay Park in Wheeling.
Fox was the Class A player of the year as low medalist in that field of competitors and was also LKC champ.
Add Ciah Kennedy, who graduated in 2019, to the mix and McClung has had three players head off to golf in college during his first two years at the helm.
At the moment, McClung, who serves as Ripley Middle School's athletic director, is working with a group of three players, including two returning starters from the State Tournament team. Those two players are juniors Jacob Coberly and Cameron Taylor.
“They have to be leaders for me,”said McClung. “There’s some promise and potential there. Just the two of them alone could be very competitive."
Of Coberly, McClung said, “He’s the most experienced kid I have. It seems like he’s only one or two shots away from where things are really good. If he can put a few more good swings and good holes together (in upcoming matches) he’s going to have some really good scores.
“He’s a little more creative with his approach shots. He can hit some spinner shots.”
Of Taylor, the Devil coach stated, “Last year was Cameron’s first year and he had to deal with not knowing what expect. It’s an advantage for him in what to expect (this year).
“He’s been able to relax. He’s not putting as much pressure on himself, he’s more comfortable and playing with a lot more ease.”
Sophomore Mason Freeman rounds out the team.
“He’s a really good kid and good student as well,” said McClung. "He’s willing to learn. He has a good demeanor and a good attitude.”
While it only takes three players to reach the State Tournament as a full squad, McClung would love to have more than a trio on his third team.
“I’m trying to recruit a few more kids,” he said. “But with this pandemic it’s been hard. I knew who I was losing. I was looking to recruit some kids to come out but then school was shut down.”
He feels the three he has could ultimately get Ravenswood to the State Tournament at the season’s end.
“Nobody expected us to go (to last year’s State Tournament),” said McClung. “You need three to qualify. Having an extra kid or two makes things more competitive. The more competitive you can make practice the more kids will get better.
“I’m hoping it will be a rewarding year for the kids.”
McClung said an added bonus to his Ravenswood golf program is the fact it produced the most recent West Virginia State Amateur champion in Alex Easthom. While McClung didn’t have the pleasure of coaching Easthom, who now golfs at West Liberty State University, during his Red Devil days (Dave Rader was his high school coach), he will definitely use the standout’s name to his advantage.
“He was a Ravenswood golfer for four years,” McClung said of Easthom. “Not a lot of programs out there that can make that boast (of having a State Am title winner). It’s a good strategy to use his name in recruiting (kids for the program).”