Season In Review Ravenswood deals with COVID-19 in 2020

Mark Martin

In the COVID-19 mad high school football season of 2020, the Ravenswood Red Devils did something many teams could not do, including those who moved on to the postseason.

The Devils managed to play a full 10-game regular season schedule.

While Ravenswood, under third-year head coach Eric Hupp, didn’t get the results they had hoped for by finishing 1-9, playing those 10 games should bode well for the future.

“We were lucky in that aspect getting in 10 games. It was good experience for the younger kids in moving forward and helping us grow,” Hupp said.

When Ravenswood’s original schedule was announced, the Red Devils were set to open the season, like all others in West Virginia, on the final Friday of August.

But when state officials decided to hold off the beginning of the 2020 campaign by one week and start things on the first Friday of September, schedules all across the state, including Ravenswood’s, had to be transformed.

The Devils had their opener with Southern Local, located across the river in Racine, Ohio, scratched from that initial schedule but managed to pick up a game later in the year with Clay County on Oct. 23 where an open date had been penciled in.

As the season moved along, there would be more changes. Ravenswood had to replace games with Wahama, Doddridge County, and St. Marys. Summers County, Tygarts Valley, and Webster County served as the replacement games.

Another regular season game with Sherman had to be halted but was ultimately played on a Tuesday, Oct. 20. The Devils nearly pulled off a win that night at home with the Tide before falling, 19-14.

Ravenswood’s lone win came over Webster County, 47-6, in the ninth week of the season.

Besides the Sherman loss, Ravenswood also fell to Buffalo (21-6), Williamstown (61-7), Roane County (32-0), Summers County (27-7), Ritchie County (41-6), Tygarts Valley (30-0), Clay County (63-7), and Ripley. (21-0).

Buffalo (Class A), Williamstown (Class A), Ritchie County (Class A), Tygarts Valley (Class A), Clay County (Class AA), and Ripley (Class AAA) all qualified for the playoffs, though, some never saw the field in the postseason due to the color-coded COVID-19 map (which determined what counties could play and which ones could not).  

“Every Saturday you sat at the house and waited for the map to be released,” Hupp said with frustration in his voice. “It was a constant trying to figure out who you could play. You took whatever was available.”

While those game changes came about due to the opposition and not Ravenswood itself, the Devils dealt with their share of COVID-19 issues.

Hupp, himself, missed the Clay and Webster games in addition to nearly three weeks of practice toward the end of the season after testing positive for the virus.

“It was horrible,” said Hupp of not only dealing with the virus but being away from his team. “Mine was mostly respiratory.”

The Devil head coach just did avoid hospitalization as his situation grew serious.

Hupp returned to coach Ravenswood in its season finale with Ripley, a game that was in jeopardy of being played earlier in the week. Ravenswood lost several players for that final contest due to COVID-19 contact tracing.

“It was particularly tough for our group of seniors and all the stuff they had to deal with,” he said. “Some of them had to quarantine that last week and didn’t get to play in their last Hatchet game. I feel bad for those guys, they meant a lot to our program and will be missed.”

Mason Stutler (WR/DB), Case Fletcher (TE/LB), Ben Queen (QB/RB/DB), Joe Chambers (WR/DB), Caleb Lane (RB/WR/LB), Daniel Hunt (OL/DL), Tyler Casto (OL/LB) and Aaron Chalden (OL/DL) made up this year’s senior class.

Confronting the pandemic and the nine losses were extremely difficult but Hupp, the eternal optimist, sees a bright light at the end of the tunnel.

“We’ve got a lot of kids coming back. The big thing is hopefully we can get them together in the offseason,” he said alluding to the fact a bulk of the 2020 squad’s weight program and summer conditioning were also derailed due to COVID-19. “We’ve got to continue to build on what we’ve started. It didn’t go as well as we had hoped throughout the year. But by the end of the year the kids started to grasp what we were doing.”

Both Queen and freshman Jacob Bowling saw action this season at quarterback for the Red Devils. Queen was 13-of-39 passing for 251 yards and two touchdowns. Bowling was 15-of-40 for 168 yards and a score.

In the rushing department, junior Isaiah Casto proved to be the workhorse. Casto finished the season with 825 yards on 162 carries, and scored eight touchdowns.

“He ran the ball well,” Hupp said. “He was going against eight or nine guys in the box (at the line of scrimmage). He has really good vision to make those cuts. We’re excited to get him back.”

Queen rushed for 131 yards on 68 carries and scored one touchdown.

Shawn Banks and Bryson Litton picked up 62 yards when rushing the football on 16 and 31 carries, respectively.

Deondre Briggs was called upon eight times and picked up 59 yards.

Fletcher collected 31 yards on six carries and scored a TD.

Brandon Bragg carried once for a 20-yard touchdown.

Wes Hill had four yards on three carries.

Banks was the team’s top receiver with 10 catches for 192 yards and two touchdowns.

Hill finished the season with six grabs for 91 yards.

Casto hauled in five passes for 72 yards. Queen had four grabs for eight yards, Litton had three for 19, Chambers and Caleb Lane rounded out the pass catching corps with two receptions each. Chambers’ two catches totaled 29 yards.

Defensively Caleb Lane was the leading tackler with 68 stops. He had four tackles for a loss, a sack, a forced fumble, and broke up three passes.

Hill, who earned Class A Honorable Mention (see story elsewhere on sports pages) was the second-leading tackler with 50. He also had two tackles for a loss and forced a fumble.

Ethan Lane was a force in the trenches with 44 tackles with 12 going for a loss. The Class A Second Team All-Stater had two sacks, a forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries.

Litton and Jayden Sayre were next in line with 43 stops. In addition to his tackles, Litton had a tackle for a loss, a fumble recovery, and broke up a pass. Sayre had an interception (returned for a TD), broke up a pass and blocked a kick.

Others registering double figures in tackles during the season were Banks (39 TK, 1 TFL, 2 INT, 3 BK), Chambers (33 TK, 1 TFL, 2 PBU), Zac Johnson (25 TK, 9 TFL, 1 SK, 3FF, 1 BK), Hunt (24 TK), Fletcher (24 TK), Xavier Rodriguez (22 TK, 1 TFL, 1 PBU), Queen (16 TK, 1 TFL, 1 PBU), Stutler (18 TK, 2 PBU), Brett Parsons (16 TK, 1 TFL, 1 SK), Briggs (16 TK), Bragg (15, 1 TFL, 1 FR), Brandon Haynes (12 TK, 2 PBU, 1 BK), and Isaiah Casto (11, 1 FR).

Remaining defensive contributors: Chalden (6 TK), Blake Ball (6 TK, 1 SK), Tyler Casto (5 TK), Ethan Tanner (4 TK), and Zane Balis (3 TK). Darrien Davis, Wyatt Milhoan, Matthew Stewart, Jeremy Brewer, and Bowling each had one tackle.

Tanner was 9-of-11 in extra points. Milhoan was 1-of-1.