On the Mark: Jackson County sports seasons, Hall of Fame and McNabb in tennis: Column

Mark Martin
Special to Jackson Newspapers
Mark Martin

SEASONS COME AND GO: In the blink of an eye, the high school football regular season has been completed for Jackson County’s teams.

There would be no playoffs in 2021 for the Ravenswood Red Devils and Ripley Vikings.

The Devils suffered through a winless campaign while the Vikings managed just one victory.

Better days will be ahead for both of these proud programs.

As we follow the playoffs over the next four weeks, there will be plenty of familiar teams the two faced during the regular season who will be gunning for Wheeling.

The state championships will be returning to Wheeling Island Stadium this year after COVID-19 closed down the Super Six championship event a year ago. 

Of course, as it turned out there were no true title games played out. South Charleston, Fairmont Sr. and St. Marys were dubbed the champs of Class AAA, Class AA and Class A.

While COVID hasn’t been silent this year, things have gone better than a year ago for the bulk of teams across the Mountain State and it did seem like a more normal high school football season.

Here’s hoping the upcoming winter sports scene will also run much smoother than a year ago.

It took until May to finish up championships in that phase of the school year.

Basketball went from March Madness to May Madness.

Let's keep our fingers crossed we never go through that again.

WINTER SPORTS AROUND THE CORNER: This upcoming high school season will bring some great storylines.

— For Ravenswood, it will mark the 100th year of Red Devil basketball.

Head coach Mick Price, assistant Bryan Canterbury and assistant Andy Wise have been hard at work to make it a year to remember as we celebrate a century of action on the hardwood by Red Devil teams.

It’s going to be great seeing some of those who Ravenswood fans adored returning to be recognized.

— For the Ripley Vikings, it will be the start of a new era.

Former standout Derek Mullins takes over as the Ripley basketball leader. Mullins spent the last three seasons as an assistant with Luke Parsons, his first cousin.

The loss of Parsons was huge but it was wonderful the program could fall into the capable hands of someone like Mullins, who was Ripley High School’s Athlete of the Year in 2011.

— Cara Williams will be starting life without Annie. As in Annie Hunt.

The Class A First Team All-Stater graduated and is now in the program at Wheeling University.

Williams has several players returning from a team that played in the state tournament last season.

— John Kennedy will continue his hard work guiding the Ripley Lady Viking program.

Kennedy’s aim is to get his team over the hump and into regional and ultimately state tournament play.

— On the wrestling scene, Ravenswood will be under new leadership as John Heath takes over for Eric Hupp.

— Matt Smith returns to lead the Vikings on the mats.

HALL OF FAME: Watching video of the Ravenswood High School Football Hall of Fame ceremonies prior to the season-ending game with Roane County was a sight to behold.

The collection for the Class of 2021 is one that would bring a smile to any coach as he started a given season.

It simply doesn’t get much better than Tim Ambro, Mike Winter, Mike Workman, Steve Seagraves, Ron Foose, Bob Searls, Bob Snyder, Bill Sinnett, Luke Murray, Jeremy Lawrence and Rhys Jelich.

One of my favorite moments was seeing an embrace by Seagraves and Foose as they were honored back-to-back.

The pair manned the two end spots, both offensively and defensively, for the Red Devil Class AA state championship team of 1972.

It was wonderful that both their head coach, Fred Taylor, and then assistant (and later head coach) Dick Sturm were a part of the ceremonies.

For guys such as Seagraves and Foose what a thrill it must have been to return years later and have their coaches present as well as the others.

Ravenswood’s football tradition is a rich one and even when there may be a tough season like 2021, the past greats will always bring hope to the future.

THE REAL MCNABB: In her first season as a head girls tennis coach, former Ravenswood standout Alex McNabb is enjoying unbelievable success.

McNabb, the daughter of Tim and Cissy (McCoy) McNabb, guided her Carolina Forest High School tennis team into the 5A state championship of South Carolina. The school is located near Myrtle Beach.

She wasn’t hired until July, but it didn’t take long for things to take off under her guidance.

At Ravenswood, McNabb played both tennis and soccer.

Her mother was an outstanding tennis player for Ravenswood in the 70s. Her late grandmother, Martha, started the sport at Ravenswood High. Her aunt, Robin (McCoy) Corbin was also a tennis standout at Ravenswood.

Her father was an excellent football player as a Red Devil along with uncles Johnny McCoy, Lance McCoy and Rusty Corbin.

Her late grandfather, John Paul McCoy, was a Ravenswood Football Hall of Famer.

We will be catching up with McNabb in the coming days to report more on her storybook season.