On the Mark

Mark Martin
Mark Martin

WVSSAC ANNOUNCEMENT: When Bernie Dolan, Executive Director for the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission, joined Governor Jim Justice at his daily COVID-19 briefing last Friday, no one knew what might be coming in terms of fall sports in West Virginia.

While it’s not perfect, and things may change as we move forward, the news for the most part was good.

Yes, seeing high school football teams losing a season opener (one in which many might not be able to make up down the road), falls to the bad side, it definitely beats the alternative of no games at all.

Ravenswood has already managed to pick up a 10th game while Ripley is in the works of possibly trying to make it happen (see story elsewhere on sports pages).

Football’s preseason workouts were moved from August 3 to August 17 with season openers now the first weekend of September.

Workouts will also get going in the month of August for golf, cross country, soccer, volleyball and cheer.

Those sports also will likely lose some meetings they simply can't make up.

Competition for golf can begin on August 24.

Cross County, soccer, volleyball and cheer competition can get going September 2.

As Dolan pointed out, wearing masks and social distancing will be paramount if fall sports seasons are to go on as scheduled.

For the sake of everyone, most of all the student-athletes, let’s hope that will be the case.

JC FLAVOR AT WVU: Looking at the current WVU football roster, there are two players listed with ties to Jackson County.

One is former Ripley Viking All-Stater Cayden Keeler, who is listed as a defensive lineman for the Mountaineers.

Keeler was redshirted last season.

He was a standout for Eddie Smolder’s Vikings and helped Ripley to the playoffs in 2018.

Josh Ritchie is the other. Ritchie played football in Ravenswood during his younger days before moving to Morgantown and being a part of John Kelley’s University Hawk program.

Ritchie’s father, Tyler, is a former Red Devil. His uncles, Todd Ritchie and Andy Gurtis, were First Team All-Staters while wearing the red and black.

He is a redshirt sophomore who is also labeled a defensive lineman.

SMOLDER IN KNIGHT COUNTRY: Speaking of Eddie Smolder, the former Viking head coach and Ripley football great is going to be working as an assistant coach this season for Cabell Midland High School.

Smolder will be teaching at Winfield High School.

Leon McCoy, the late grandfather of Smolder’s wife Brooke, was a coaching legend at Winfield.

At Midland, Smolder will be joining forces with one-time Red Devil standout Luke Salmons, who has molded Midland into one of the state’s top programs.

Salmons and Smolder. S&S.

A winning combination for sure.

Both are considered among the best football players ever to come from Jackson County.

After their respective Red Devil and Viking playing days, they became teammates and very close friends at Marshall University.