On the Mark: Football in the fall, playoff memories and more: Column

Mark Martin
Mark Martin

FOOTBALL’S GREATEST TIME: Football season is great regardless of whether it is early in the season or late.

But as the first full month of the 2021 campaign dissolves and October arrives, followed by November, the season seems to take on an entirely new feel and meaning.

For teams having great seasons, discussion of the postseason becomes serious.

In addition to the scenario on the gridiron edging closer to the pursuit of championships, it is the change of the weather that really excites me as football season moves along.

I love the crisp, cool air that fall brings.

The sound of leaves crunching while going on a hike is music to the ears.

And the vision of fans in the stands bundled up a bit, with the steam of hot chocolate or coffee rising from a multitude of cups at stadiums, is pure delight.

Yes, football season is special.

While the high school scene begins when summer is winding down, I feel fall officially starts when those opening game kickoffs unfold.

It’s a special time and the memory bank for me continues to overflow.

The games and players have certainly filled the bank.

But most of all, those incredible sights and sounds of football in the fall are something I can’t get enough of week in and week out.

CONCESSION CONNOISSEUR: Travelling to various venues both on the high school and college scene, I will admit concession stand food is among one of my favorites to indulge ... (just not too much).

Doing a live football television broadcast at Scott High School I stumbled upon an item on one of the concession stand menus never seen before (and trust me, I’ve witnessed my fair share through the years).

The Scott High Athletic Boosters features not just hot fudge cake ... but homemade hot fudge cake. It didn’t work out to try, but it is my goal to hopefully get back to the Boone County school and place my order.

It appeared to be quite popular.

I just wasn’t sure eating hot fudge cake before calling a game over the course of three hours was a good idea. It’s now my regret I didn’t take a chance.

The food at these high school stadiums is another facet making Friday night football a favorite.

Scott, by the way, handed Sherman’s Tide their first defeat of the season.

It came the week before Sherman was set to meet up with Ravenswood.

ROLL TIDE: In doing research for the Sherman-Scott game it occurred to me the first-ever playoff game in Sherman High history unfolded at Ripley’s Memorial Stadium.

Back in the day, the home of the Vikings was a popular place for the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission to hold playoff football games. That was back in the day when fewer teams qualified for the postseason and the governing board looked for both neutral sites and nice venues to play the games and championships.

Memorial Stadium filled the bill time and time again.

Sherman had its way with Doddridge County in that 1975 Class AA semifinal playoff tilt by shutting out the Bulldogs, 40-0.

The Tide then lost a tough game to Ceredo-Kenova in the state title contest, which was played in Huntington at old Fairfield Stadium.

Sherman’s offense was engineered by the late Terry Spangler, who earned a scholarship to WVU before settling in and enjoying an outstanding college career for Glenville State College.

The great Cline Stansberry was head coach for Doddridge that afternoon.

Stansberry, who is in his early 90s, would bring his Doddridge program back to Memorial Stadium in November of 1978 for the Class A championship against Duval. That was the first year in which eight teams qualified for the playoffs in the three classifications.

The current field of 16 teams in each class started in 1991.

COLORS (ANALYSTS) OF FALL: I’ve been fortunate to have two of Jackson County’s finest — Mick Price and Jim Mahan — work the live television games on Stadium (a sister station to WCHS-TV and FOX 11) with me as color analysts the past several years.

Both do a tremendous job.

Price, the long-time head boys basketball coach at Ravenswood, also coached Red Devil football for three years and had two playoff teams. He has a pair of state basketball titles at Ravenswood.

Mahan was the first player in Ravenswood’s rich history of the sport of football to earn First Team All-State twice.

The current director of secondary/vocational education for Jackson County Schools enjoyed a successful coaching career before moving into administration.

Mahan coached football and wrestling at Ravenswood and is probably best known for guiding Devilette track and field, along with great friend Bryan Canterbury, to five Class AA-A state titles in six years.

HALL PASS: Former Ripley Viking football standout Kevin Hall has been recognized at West Virginia State for his outstanding contributions on the Yellow Jacket scout teams.

Hall is a freshman for the program at the Institute-based school.

Hall and the rest of his Yellow Jacket teammates are excited with what is taking place with the program.

State, at long last, is getting an artificial turf field and lights.

Up until now, State was the only football playing school in the Mountain East Conference that didn’t have either one at its football facility known as Lakin-Ray Field at Dickerson Stadium.

The project is hopefully to be completed before the season is over.

DEVILETTE COURT DELAY: Saturday, Oct. 2, is when the Devilette Athletic Center was to be officially dedicated at Ravenswood High School.

Unfortunately, it is going to be shifted to the fall of 2022.

“Due to the increase in cases (COVID-19) throughout the state we have postponed,” said Ravenswood volleyball coach Chris Michael in holding off on the Oct. 2 event.

Michael has worked tirelessly on the project.

The facility is home to both Ravenswood girls varsity volleyball and basketball.

It’s a shame the dedication and celebration couldn’t take place this year, but when it does one can bet it will be outstanding.

After all, Chris Michael is involved. And he is an individual who only does things one way ... first class.