On the Mark: Fall sports, Bowden and more: Column

Mark Martin
Mark Martin

FALL SPORTS: The fall sports calendar is certainly the busiest for West Virginia high schools.

There’s golf, cross country, soccer, volleyball, football and cheer.

Teams in Jackson County are well underway with the final stage leading up to their 2021 seasons that will hopefully be a lot more normal than last.

Golf has already gotten started.

ON THE LINKS: The Ripley golf team is certainly missing some key links this season due to graduation.

One of those is Davis Haynes.

The talented Haynes, who competed earlier this month in the West Virginia State Amateur, is about to begin his college career.

Haynes will be playing at West Virginia Wesleyan.

In talking with Haynes the other day he is excited about getting the chance to play daily at the Stonewall Resort, the home course for Wesleyan golfers.

Haynes is an impressive young guy mature beyond his years.

CUNNINGHAM RETURNS: Sydni Cunningham was hoping for a great acrobatic and tumbling career at West Virginia Wesleyan.

Injuries took their toll on the one-time Ripley athlete.

So she has come back home to take classes at WVU-P and enter the coaching world.

Cunningham, who was a standout soccer player and part of a state championship relay team during her high school days, is the new assistant girls soccer coach at Ripley High.

She is assisting new head coach Jay Pierson.

In the season of 1980, Pierson was an outstanding defensive back for the Ripley Viking football team of the late Frank Marino to finish 9-1.

NEW NAME: I love talking with coaches about their sport and hearing the passion.

Chris Michael is one of those.

Now in his 11th season as the Devilette head volleyball coach, Michael enjoys talking about his team and the sport.

No one promotes the game any better than does Michael, who was an excellent basketball player in his day for Mick Price’s Runnin’ Red Devils.

He’s excited about the new name for his team’s home venue — Devilette Athletic Center. The official dedication ceremony will be Oct. 2.

Michael has also coached girls basketball at Ravenswood.

BOWDEN REFLECTIONS: It was great catching up with former Ravenswood and WVU star Joe Jelich to discuss the late Bobby Bowden.

After his playing days for the Red Devils, in which he established himself as one of the best of all-time, Jelich went on to Morgantown and quickly became a starter for Bowden’s final Mountaineer team of 1975.

Joe is as humble as they come. It was always his way.

He’s quite proud of his three sons — Jonas, Conner and Rhys. All three were talented football players and athletes at Ravenswood.

Jonas lives and works in the construction business in Rhode Island. Conner is based with the Navy in Hawaii. Rhys is still in West Virginia and works for Dow Chemical.

VIKING HALL OF FAME: The 2021 inductees for the Ripley High School Viking Football Hall of Fame have been announced.

Kenny Parsons, Gene Fisher, Justin Southall, Seth Parsons and Kade Harrison will be honored this season at various home games. The games in which each will be recognized has yet to be announced.

KEELER’S DECISION: A story on former Viking football standout Caydan Keeler can be found in this edition of Jackson Newspapers and on the website.

Keeler, who has been a part of the Mountaineer program the last two years, stepped away from football due to an assortment of health issues following the 2020 season.

His last time in uniform was the Liberty Bowl in December. A game won by the Mountaineers over Army.

It is a shame things didn’t work out for Keeler.

He was working hard. It was only a matter of time before he finally got his chance to be on the field as a defensive lineman.

Football is a tough game and many times injuries take over.

He enjoyed his time with the program.

The sky is the limit for Keeler.

He’s a young man who works hard at whatever he does — as evident by his being named to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll for academics.

He was an outstanding football player and will always be remembered for giving it his all as a Viking and becoming a First Team Class AAA All-Stater.

And he will be remembered for giving everything he had at WVU before coming to his tough decision to step away.

He’s not only athletic, but smart and personable.

Caydan Keeler is simply a class act.