Ravenswood competed for Class AA football state title

Mark Martin

While there weren’t any state championships decided this year in Wheeling due to COVID-19, that wasn’t the case 10 years ago…and the Super Six had local flavor.

As Dick Sturm reflects on his Ravenswood Red Devil football team of 2010, it is hard not to think about the numbers his crew in the red and black piled up on its way to appearing in the Class AA state championship at Wheeling Island Stadium.

From an offensive standpoint, his squad was indeed a productive one.

“We were very diversified,” Sturm said. “We had pretty good receivers. We had so many yards after the catch. We had a quarterback (Cole Starcher) who could run. We could play (Chad) Small ball by putting Chad (a standout lineman and punter) at fullback. We would spread to get people to quit loading up the box. If they spread out (the defense) it opened up the inside running game.”

Ravenswood’s team, which reeled off 13 straight victories before falling in the state title game to Magnolia set a bevy of school records.

The Devils had the most team yardage (4,933), rushing yards (3.492) and points (505).

In all, Ravenswood broke 13 school records on the journey to that state championship game – the fifth in the history of Red Devil football.

The Devils opened the season with a 23-8 victory at Herbert Hoover. That was followed by a home win against the Poca Dots, 37-14.

The Devils moved to 3-0 with a win over Roane County in Spencer, 10-6.

Back-to-back wins over Tyler Consolidated, 55-14, and Ritchie County, 63-7, in Ravenswood and on the road at Ellenboro, respectively, had Ravenswood perfect at the midway point of the season.

The perfection would continue the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs.

Two straight home games saw Ravenswood defeat Braxton County and Point Pleasant. The Devils handed the Eagles a 22-8 setback while the game with Point was one for the ages. Ravenswood would knock off the Big Blacks in an overtime thriller, 27-24.

At 7-0, the Devils went on the road for two straight and returned with victories over Clay County, 58-23, and St. Marys, 27-7.

All that was standing in the way of an unbeaten season for Ravenswood was a showdown with rival Ripley in the Battle of the Hatchet. Through the years, upsets had been a big part of the Hatchet history.

The Devils, though, prevented that from happening by winning a convincing 35-10 showdown on their home turf of Flinn Field.

When the first set of West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission ratings was released following Week 3 of the season, Ravenswood was at No. 1. The Devils would stay in that position the remainder of the season.

Not only had the team finished undefeated but it earned the right to be at home for as many as three more games as the focus turned to reaching Wheeling and competing for a championship.

The Red Devils would meet two teams from the regular season in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

The Class AA playoff opener had Ravenswood easily taking care of Poca, 63-21.

In the quarterfinals at home, Ravenswood topped Roane County for a second time by a final of 48-20. Roane was coming off its first (and only) playoff win in school history by defeating Point Pleasant.

All that stood in the way of Ravenswood making a trip to the Super Six at Wheeling for the first-time ever was perennial power Bluefield in a semifinal matchup.

The Beaver program has as rich of a history as any in the state. At the time, Bluefield was the owner of 10 state titles.

But 2010 wasn’t the year for Bluefield (which won an 11th title in 2017) to add another layer to its illustrious football lore as Sturm’s Devils took advantage of being at home one last time and came away with a 24-19 semifinal victory to send them on to the state’s Northern Panhandle.

“That was a tremendous accomplishment from our kids” Sturm said. “My son, Steve (a Devil assistant), gave a pep talk before the game that it was kind of like David versus Goliath. That game was a nail-biter all the way the through. Just back and forth.”

Ravenswood’s reward for its fabulous regular season gave that Devil team more home games than any in school history with the three playoff contests unfolding at Flinn Field.

“Playing at home with Poca, Roane and Bluefield was a benefit to the kids.”

As an assistant to Fred Taylor, Sturm had been a part of two Class AA state championship teams in 1972 and 1976. The

The 1972 squad finished 12-0 with the title win coming over Magnolia.

Playing Magnolia not once, but twice for a state championship while at Ravenswood was indeed an interesting matchup for Sturm, who spent one season with the Blue Eagle program under Jack Flanagan.

In 1966, he made the trip down the Ohio River to work with Taylor at Ravenswood, where he has been ever since.

“I had a great relationship with (Devil coaching legend) Fred (Taylor). I learned a lot from Fred,” said Sturm, who was Ravenswood’s head coach after Taylor from 1997-2011. “It was just a great situation.”

Unfortunately, the dream season for Ravenswood in 2010 ended with a tough, 28-13, loss to that particular Magnolia team.

“I’ve often said I’d like to go and play that game over. Some small things happened (which led to the defeat),” said Sturm, who was a star player as a Calhoun County High School Red Devil and Salem College Tiger before making his way into the teaching and coaching profession. “I was proud we held them at the end of the game, they were down there close (to the end zone) and we didn’t let them score again. Our kids fought until the end.”

The Devils of 2010 were indeed a “team.”

And no team can reach the level the Devils of 2010 did without an array of contributors.

In the following weeks, several Devil standouts were recognized. Small was named the Hunt (now the Stydahar) Award winner as the state’s top lineman.

Small, as a defensive lineman, Anthony Crow, as an offensive lineman, Mark Davis, as a linebacker and Starcher, as a utility player, all earned Class AA First Team All-State honors. Running back Jeremy Lawrence was a Class AA Second Team pick and kicker John Scritchfield garnered Special Honorable Mention.

“That was just a highly-motivated team. My assistant coaches did a great job with the game plan and that sort of thing, Sturm said. “That was a great group of kids, they had a great work ethic.”

And a great head coach leading the way.