If I were to say that 2020 was ideal, I would either be crazy or a liar. It’s been more like a dream that you can’t wake up from. This year has had more ups and downs than a yo-yo, more in’s and out’s than an accordion. What it did bring us was the start of a new era at Ripley High School.

With Jimmy Frashier as the new principal and new boys soccer coaches; Victor Boyce and Jesse Casto, they all tried to bring some normalcy and stability to this group of young men in a time where everything is far from being normal. The daily questioning and inquiring about player conditions and how they were doing, was always overshadowed by the glorious colors of the state map. I’ve always been a fan of Brazilian soccer but absolutely loved seeing green and yellow covering the map of West Virginia.

The 2020 version of the Viking soccer squad was small in numbers but big in heart and desire. The boy’s team fielded 15 players for the first quarter of the 12-game season, then added one more, who was an exchange student from Germany, for the remaining eight games. The team included four freshmen; Levi Casto, Parker Cobb, Hayden Hughes, and Max Meadows. Each one received a lot of playing time, more than in an average freshman season.

Meadows stepped up and found his way into the starting eleven. His speed, ball-handling ability, and competitive nature made him a great fit. He finished his freshman year with four goals (tying him for second place on the team in goals) and one assist.

“Max has a lot of ability, he will continue to improve. We are so lucky to have him, Levi, Parker, and Hayden in our program. These four young players will be great for us over the next three years,” Boyce said.

The Vikings had four sophomores; Jacob Banton, Aiden Greathouse, Nic Hill, and Julian Hoss. The sophomore class has a lot of talent with Hill leading the way as the Viking’s goalkeeper. He had a stellar sophomore season with 130 saves, one shutout, and 2/3 on Penalty Kick saves.

The other sophomores played very important roles as well, the kind that may not always grab the headline, but are vital to the success of any team. Banton, Greathouse, and Hoss did the grunt work, they fought on every possession and worked extremely hard. Even at practices, they delivered each day.

“Such a privilege hard-working hard working guys. These were the lunch pail boys, they got down and dirty and got to work.” Boyce said. “ We will have Nic back for two more years, he is really an unassuming and talented keeper. He makes saves look so easy, not everyone can do his job. At the same time, we are also going to miss not having Julian back. He is such a good teammate and player with great field awareness and field vision. We all really liked having him be a part of our circle. Even though he will be back in Germany next season, he will always be a Viking!” Boyce said.

The junior class is the heart and soul of the soccer team. Carter Cochran, Noah Kessell, Jake Harvey, Anderson Phillips, and Wyatt White. Harvey was the assist leader on the team with 7, he added 3 goals. White was tied for second place on the team in scoring with 4. The juniors are leaders in other ways as well. Both Cochran and Kessell were team captains. These guys worked hard on and off the soccer field, motivated younger players, and pushed everyone to be better.

“This is my core. These are guys who will and did play everywhere and anywhere. The ones who command and demand more, not always with words, but their actions speak volumes. No words can express what they bring to the team and table. They would be starters on each and every team in the state. We are beyond lucky to have them back for their senior season.” Boyce said. “ Carter is the captain of our ship, the boys look up to and respond to him. He is a great talent who plays at the top or All-State level every game. He does the things that there aren’t stats for and doesn’t complain.”

Finally, the seniors; Ian Gainey, Dan Goodreau, and Wes Hopper. Gainey led the team in scoring this year with nine goals. He ended his brilliant RHS career with 41 goals and 11 assists. The seniors are affected the most with a crazy game schedule, the juggling of two days of school and homework, choosing colleges, and then add in the color map to their list of uncertainties. These guys handled all of these obstacles plus more.

Gainey and Hopper have been with the high school program for all four years and have played travel soccer over the years as well. Goodreau joined the Viking soccer team in his junior year.

“All three have had their own impact on the team in different and special ways. Dan is a good guy, he tried so hard for us and that’s all that we could ask of him or anyone. Wes is very smart and has good soccer talent. He will go on and do great things beyond the soccer field. He improved so much this year by stepping up and wanting a great senior season. Ian is a force on the field, he is very competitive and filled with desire. This abbreviated season hurt him the most. He had a lot of personal goals that were very reachable in a regular season.” Boyce said. “What a special and different senior year for these guys to have, something that none of us will ever forget. I’m really happy that we were able to get a season in at all, we lived under the fear of it being cancelled every day.“

The Viking Soccer team will be entering its 30th season next year. The Vikes hope to see everyone out at the stadium to help celebrate the anniversary with them.

“Thanks to everyone who helped make this season possible. We are excited about the future and we are ready to get back to work,” Boyce said. “Next year will be very exciting for everyone.”