A postseason review for the Vikings

Mark Martin
Jackson Newspapers

If all goes well with the state’s color-coded COVID19 map, Ripley will play its 15th playoff game of all-time Sunday afternoon.

(Jackson County is presently orange and needs to get to either gold, yellow or green by Saturday at 5 p.m. ).

Steve Sayre’s first Viking team is slated to go against South Charleston at Black Eagle Stadium in SC.

Ripley will enter at 6-3 while the Black Eagles are 5-0. The Vikings finished as the No. 15 seed in the Class AAA ratings while SC, who played a limited schedule due to games being cancelled because of COVID, finished out at No. 2.

The first-ever Ripley High playoff game was played in 1986 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown against Martinsburg.

Mark Johnson drilled three field goals and a stingy Viking defense helped Ripley prevail, 9-8. The Vikings then lost in the semifinals to Brooke, also in Morgantown.

Martinsburg, as we know, has gone on to establish itself as one of the state’s greatest programs ever by winning eight of the last 10 AAA titles.

The loss to Brooke started a string of three straight playoff losses to the once proud Bruin program that has fallen on hard times the last several years. The other two defeats at the hands of Brooke came in opening round games during the seasons of 1987 and 1989.

The first matchup was at Wheeling Island Stadium, where state championships are now staged, while the second was at Ripley’s Memorial Stadium

Ripley and Brooke were slated to play a regular season game this year but it was cancelled.

Ripley returned to the playoffs in 1995 and lost an opening round home encounter to Wheeling Park.

North Marion hosted the Vikings in 1996 and sidelined the blue and white in the opening round.

In 1996, Ripley did the unthinkable as a No. 16 seed by knocking off No. 1 Morgantown, 24-21, at Pony Lewis Field. It marks the only time since the playoff field for the three classes moved to 16 teams (1991) that a No. 16 has beaten a No. 1 in AAA. The Vikings lost the following week to Hedgesville, who became the eventual runner-up that season.

In 2002, Ripley defeated Buckhannon-Upshur in the opening round of the playoffs at Memorial Stadium. It would prove to be the late Frank Marino’s last game at Ripley as the Viking head coach.

The following week, Marino’s coaching days for Ripley came to an end as Riverside avenged a loss from earlier in the season to eliminate the possible championship run by the Vikings.

In 2009, Jimmy Frashier, the current Ripley High principal, led the Vikings to a win on the road at Nicholas County’s Memorial Stadium against Ravenswood native Gene Morris’ Grizzlies.

Ripley was stopped by its old playoff nemesis Brooke the following week in the state’s Northern Panhandle.

A Viking home playoff win came about in 2018 under Eddie Smolder as Ripley downed Greenbrier East in the opening round.

Ripley’s great season culminated the following week in the state’s snow-covered Eastern Panhandle against Musselman.


1986-Martinsburg, W (9-8) at Morgantown's Mountaineer Field

1986-Brooke, L (28-10) at Morgantown's Mountaineer Field

1987-Brooke, L (42-14) at Wheeling Island Stadium

1989-Brooke, L (27-14) at Ripley's Memorial Stadium

1995-Wheeling Park, L (19-6) at Ripley's Memorial Stadiu

1996-North Marion, L (40-14) at Rachel's Husky Stadium

1997-Morgantown, W (24-21) at Morgantown's Pony Lewis Field

1997-Hedgesville, L (27-15) at Martinsburg's Cobourn Field

2002-Buckhannon-Upshur, W (26-14) at Ripley's Memorial Stadium

2002-Riverside, L (47-14) at Charleston's Laidley Field

2009-Nicholas County, W (21-14) at Summersville's Memorial Stadium

2009-Brooke, L (34-14) at Wellsburg's Brooke Memorial Stadium

2018-Greenbrier East, W (43-15) at Ripley's Memorial Stadium

2018-Musselman, L (52-7) at Spring Mills Cardinal Stadium