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Viking football getting ready for the 2020 season

Mark Martin
Sportswriter
Senior Quinton Joyner (center) and his 2020 Ripley Viking Football teammates line up for drills to prepare for the upcoming season.

The Blue and White school of Ripley High is gearing up for a 2020 football season.

And while the Vikings aren’t exactly worrying just yet about their first opponent, there is some thoughts of another Blue and White school on a daily basis – Buckhannon-Upshur.

Ripley will make the journey to North Central West Virginia for its season opener of 2020 September 4 – a day officially launching the Steve Sayre era as Ripley’s head coach.

For now, the former Viking has been enjoying taking part in some “flex” day workouts leading up to the beginning of August camp, which begins this coming Monday (the 17th).

“It’s great to be out here,” said the ever-friendly and classy Sayre, a former Ripley standout and a member of the Viking Football Hall of Fame. “There were many days this spring I didn’t know if we would get to play or not.”

As time passes, West Virginia’s high school football programs have been either been using “flex” (six extra practices allowed throughout a school year) days or lifting weights leading up to the start of full-fledged practices that were delayed from August 3 until August 17.

Of course, things have been in a flux due to COVID-19.

Athletic programs, not just football, have dealt with the storm and are moving forward hoping to see action.

“Right now, it looks like we are going to get to play,” Sayre said. “We’re really excited.”

Sayre continues to pinch himself from time to time that he is the head football coach at Ripley High School, where he graduated in 1974.

“I am blessed,” he said. “And I’m lucky I’ve got a lot of good kids. We’ve got great facilities. Everybody’s working awfully hard. I’ve got a great coaching staff.

“We’re really enthused. We’re going to be really young and inexperienced. We’re pretty pleased with where we are right now.”

Sayre has a limited number of seniors, but the ones who will dot the 2020 roster have experience and are excellent football players.

They include running back/linebacker Kadin Hall along with linemen Quinton Joyner and Matt Moore.

“Kadin Hall’s played a lot of football,” Sayre said. “He’s a great young man.”

Sayre feels Hall will be the focal point of both the offense and defense.

He’s extremely high on Joyner and Moore.

A former lineman himself, Sayre knows the key to success starts up front and he feels others will blend in nicely with Joyner and Moore to form a solid unit up front.

Not only is Sayre incredibly excited to be working with his athletes, but the players themselves are feeling a sigh of relief as they go through football activities.

“We’ve been out there working a lot and hard,” said Hall. “We’ve been doing a lot of agilities and stuff and getting through plays. Getting together and having fun working.”

Hall admits he’s had some uneasy moments over the past few months with the pandemic news, but with each day he feels better and better that the opportunity is going to come to strap it on one last time with his Viking brothers and represent Ripley football.

“I didn’t know if my season was going to be cancelled or not,” Hall said. “As of right now we’re playing football and that’s all that matters.”

With the departure of the popular Eddie Smolder, who coached the Vikings for five straight seasons, Hall is glad Sayre, who had been an assistant, stepped in to take over the program.

“I really like Coach Sayre,” Hall said. “He’s probably one of my best coaches I’ve ever been around. He’s kind of inspirational.”

While Buckhannon-Upshur is familiar to the Ripley schedule, the Vikings will see some new opponents in 2020.

Among them are Lewis County (September 18), Oak Hill (September 25) and Shady Spring (October 23). While Lincoln County (September 11) has been a foe in the past, they haven’t been on the slate for a few seasons.

Ripley will also tangle with the likes Marietta, Ohio, where Sayre once served as head coach, (October 2) and Greenbrier East (October 16).

The season will conclude with a pair of rivalry games as Ripley takes on Point Pleasant (October 30) for the Old Oaken Bucket and Ravenswood (November 6) for the Hatchet.

Besides Buckhannon-Upshur, Ripley will travel to Oak Hill, St. Albans, Greenbrier East and Ravenswood.

Home games will feature Lincoln County, Lewis County, Marietta, Shady Spring and Point Pleasant.