Move over NFL, high school football in West Virginia is coming to a venue near you.
Of the state’s 24 first round playoff matchups this coming weekend, 12 are slated for Sunday afternoon.
It’s a new twist to this crazy 2020 season for teams across the state dealing with COVID-19 guidelines.
Several counties were either red or orange last Saturday when the latest color-coded map was revealed.
Those in red must shut down schools completely. Orange counties can only condition from a sports standpoint.
To help those qualifying for the postseason get the chance to play, Sunday games were installed by the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission as a possible remedy.
Jackson County was in orange last Saturday jeopardizing Ripley’s scheduled Class AAA opener at South Charleston.
The county will have to either be gold, yellow or green by 5 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday) in order for the Vikings to meet the Black Eagles at 1:30 p.m. inside SC's Black Eagle Stadium.
If Ripley does get the opportunity, first-year head coach Steve Sayre knows his team will be in for a challenge.
“There’s no question they will be the best football team we have faced all year,” said Sayre, who guided Ripley to a 6-3 season in 2020. “They have skill and they have size.”
Leading the way offensively is sophomore quarterback Trey Dunn.
In five games this season, Dunn has passed for 1,495 yards and 20 touchdowns.
South Charleston was limited to just a five-game schedule due to COVID-19 issues in Kanawha County.
The Black Eagles of head coach Donnie Mays did not see game action until October 7.
A sign of what might be in store for the Black Eagles this season came about in the opener as they rolled past rival Capital, 47-14.
SC, squeezing in as many games as possible, followed with big wins over George Washington (49-24), St. Albans (56-7), Huntington (42-21), and Riverside (56-8).
The Black Eagles had their final game with Beckley Woodrow Wilson scratched.
Dunn’s top targets this season have been Donavin Davis and Jah’den Estep, who both have 18 catches. Shyleik Kinney has grabbed 16 passes.
Mondrell Dean is the team’s top rusher with 354 yards and four touchdowns.
Dunn has rushed for six touchdowns.
Senior defensive end Zeiqui Lawton, who just committed to play for the University of Cincinnati, is the team’s top tackler with 36 stops.
“We will have to play our best game of the year,” said Sayre, whose team is coming off a 21-0 win over rival Ravenswood.
Sayre, a Viking standout lineman from the ‘70s, has been happy with how his first Ripley team performed this year.
“We’ve been like everyone else in dealing with COVID,” he said. “The kids have worked hard and gave great effort. I couldn’t be more pleased.”
While South Charleston played just five games, Ripley nearly managed to get in a full slate of 10 matchups.
The schedule had to be juggled with some new teams added but Sayre was thrilled his young squad could take part in nine games.
Besides Ravenswood, Ripley’s victories this season have come against Buckhannon-Upshur (42-0), Lincoln County (21-14), Marietta, Ohio (28-26), Scott (28-0), and Shady Spring (35-14).
Losses were suffered against Lewis County (29-13), Spring Mills (43-14), and Berkeley Springs (27-7).
Ripley’s offensive leaders have been senior Kadin Hall and sophomore Joey Ramsey at running back. Hall has 787 yards on 149 carries and nine touchdowns. Ramsey has 757 on 137 carries and 15 TDs.
Sophomore Ty Stephens is 42-of-84 through the air for 602 yards and seven touchdowns.
Isaiah Casto has 11 catches and Ramsey 10. Eli Miller has nine.
Defensively, Quinton Joyner and Matt Moore, two seniors, are the top tacklers with 114 and 93, respectively.
Carter Cochran is a perfect 16-of-16 in extra points with Kaitlyn Lawrence in at 13-of-14.
VIKING GAME NOTES – WCEF-FM (98.3) will air the game live with Brian Johnson, Jeff Waybright, and Phil Iman…SC leads the overall series with Ripley, 16-4…South Charleston’s athletic director is former Viking standout Bryce Casto, who guided the school to one of its five state titles in 1994…SC has had several former players move on the NFL including Alex Hawkins, Robert Alexander, Carl Lee, Anthony Bass, and Aaron Dobson.