On the Mark

Mark Martin
James "Jim" Bowers

SCARBERRY PASSES THE TEST: I love doing “Catchup up with” pieces on former athletes from Ravenswood and Ripley.

In Tuesday’s edition of The Jackson Herald, hopefully all of you had the chance to read my column on former Viking Mike Scarberry, who graduated from Ripley High in 1973.

The story centered around Scarberry still owning the discus record for Ripley High School track and field.

It has stood since he heaved the round object 146-11 1/2 inches in 1973.

Current Ripley head football coach Steve Sayre, who was a junior that year, remembers it well.

“I was there that day (at Charleston’s Laidley Field),” said Sayre, who became a pretty fair discus and shot put thrower during his days at Ripley High, where he also excelled in football and wrestling. “Mike really became something throwing the discus.”

As mentioned in the column, Scarberry was also a fine football and basketball player (and quite possibly is the owner of the longest shot made in Ripley basketball history).

Besides throwing a discus, he could also launch a football.

During his career, Scarberry, who resides in Mineral Wells, threw for 948 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior in 1971 and 641 with four TDs as a senior in the 1972 campaign.

He accomplished those numbers in a time when footballs weren’t flying through the air as frequently as they are in this present day and age.

A man for all seasons, it was good chatting with former Viking Mike Scarberry.

MSAC FOOTBALL: The high school football season will be different this season, we know that for sure.

But one thing appears to be the same when it comes to the Mountain State Athletic Conference.

Former Ravenswood Red Devil Luke Salmons and his Cabell Midland Knights will be in the hunt for another title.

In a vote by league coaches, the Knights are tabbed to win the rock-solid conference.

Midland reached the Class AAA game last season at Wheeling Island Stadium, falling to Martinsburg.

It was the second time Salmons has led Midland to the title contest in his career with the Ona-based school in Cabell County.

Midland received a total of 92 votes in the balloting, including four first place votes.

Spring Valley, who Midland defeated in the semifinals and a program that had played in three straight AAA title games, was second with 90 votes and three of the first-place variety.

South Charleston was third with 82 votes, while also gaining three for first place.

Rounding it out were George Washington (63), Capital and Huntington (56), Hurricane (39), Parkersburg (39), Riverside (19) and St. Albans (15).

St. Albans dots Ripley’s schedule this coming season. The Vikings play at Crawford Field, which has a beautiful new turf, October 9.

One-time Ripley Viking great Eddie Smolder, who guided his alma mater’s football teams the past five seasons, will be a member of the Midland staff this season.

REMEMBERING JIM BOWERS: I’ve been writing for The Jackson Herald, Jackson Star News and The Ravenswood News (now the Star-News) dating back to the school year of 1979-80.

That’s a lot of game articles, columns, features and news stories.

Many stand out in my mind.

One of those was with Jim Bowers back in August of 1987.

It was a preseason story for football, where Bowers was a standout for the Ravenswood Red Devils of legendary head coach Fred Taylor.

Bowers was coming off an outstanding wrestling season where he finished as runner-up in the Class AA-A 185-pound division. In that match, he endured a gut-wrenching overtime loss, 3-2, to Greenbrier West senior Doug Franklin.

While the story did center around his athletic excellence, it also covered the wonderful talent Bowers had as an artist.

Bowers passed away July 27 following a battle with glioblastoma. He died at the young age of 50.

His love for art never left him following his high school days.

Bowers graduated from Ravenswood in 1988.

His senior year, he again returned to the championship setting of the West Virginia State Wrestling Tournament. He finished second again by having to deal with another close defeat, 9-7, against Jimmy Mizia of Shady Spring in the 189-pound division of Class AA-A.

While it was tough falling in back-to-back title matches, Bowers knew there were so many who would have loved to be in his shoes on the biggest night of the season.

He handled the disappointment with class and dignity.

Bowers, who competed on the mats under the guidance of coaches Dale Hinkle and Jim Mahan, won 62 matches in his final two seasons.

Bowers moved on to graduate from the Columbus College of Art and Design and then earned a BS and PhD in chemical engineering at WVU.

He worked for Constellium as a customers applications engineer, specializing in military, aerospace and transportation.

While he has left us, his presence will forever be with those who knew him here in Jackson County and beyond through his artwork.

Some of which will be on display at the Ravenswood City Building until September.

He was a great athlete, talented artist, excellent employee and wonderful friend. Jim Bowers took all of God’s gifts and made the most of them.

Most of all, he was a loving husband and father.

Quite simply, Jim Bowers was a champion of life.