Ripley Football: Vikings look to play a full schedule in 2021
In Steve Sayre’s first season as Ripley’s head football coach, his Vikings came closer than many others to playing a complete schedule.
COVID-19 forced several changes along the way, but the Vikings did manage to compete in nine contests.
The 6-3 record earned them a spot in the Class AAA playoffs as the No. 15-seed.
But then the virus brought things to a halt.
The COVID map restrictions instituted in West Virginia hit home in Jackson County.
Ripley’s season ended abruptly. No one will ever know what might have happened.
The scheduled opening round playoff opponent for Ripley was to be against South Charleston, who would end up being crowned Class AAA state champion.
Sayre’s second Viking squad has been hard at work in the offseason preparing for what they hope will be a more normal setting for high school football.
Ripley is set for a journey to the Northern Panhandle to play its first game. The Vikings will square off with the Brooke Bruins on Aug. 27.
The football past between the two schools features four playoffs games. One of those took place at Ripley in 1989 — the first-ever postseason encounter in Viking football history.
Ripley will next meet Buckhannon-Upshur in the home opener Sept. 3.
In 2002, Ripley’s first-ever home playoff victory came against the B-U program.
Buckhannon’s rich history involves playing a Class AAA state title game at Memorial Stadium in 1969, which marked the first time a postseason contest had ever been played in Jackson County.
The Vikings will hit the road Sept. 10 for the third game of the season as they travel to Lincoln County for a battle with the Panthers.
Sayre’s Vikings will make their way to Don Drumm Stadium in Marietta, Ohio, for the fourth showdown of the season Sept. 17. The battle with the Tigers will be special for Sayre, who once served six seasons as head coach for the Tiger program.
A showdown with Oak Hill was one of the games cancelled last year for Ripley. This season the two are scheduled to meet on the home turf of the Vikings Sept. 24.
During the offseason, Oak Hill head coach David Moneypenny announced he was stepping down. He has since decided to come back.
The Oak Hill game begins a stretch of four straight inside the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium.
Roane County will invade Oct. 1 as the Raiders return to the schedule. Paul Burdette has built Roane into a solid Class AA program in recent years.
Oct. 8 will find the St. Albans Red Dragons coming to Ripley.
Nick Watts continues working hard to bring respectability back to SA football.
The final home game of the regular season will have Ray Lee’s Greenbrier East Spartans paying a visit Oct. 15.
Lee was the head coach of the South All-Stars this past June in the WCHS-TV/FOX 11 North-South All-Star Football Classic. He coached three standouts from last season’s team — Kadin Hall, Quinton Joyner and Matt Moore — who graduated.
Ripley hits the road for its last two games.
The first will be at Shady Spring. It will be the first time a Viking team has ever played there.
The Tigers of head coach Vince Culicerto will be playing Ripley on its new turf at Thomas Field in the Oct. 22 matchup.
The season finale will be against rival Point Pleasant Oct. 29 for the Old Oaken Bucket.
Point was the lone team on this 2021 Ripley schedule to reach the playoffs a year ago. The Big Blacks were defeated in the opening round of Class AA against Oak Glen.
By playing Point in the last game of the regular season, it gives Ripley a rivalry to end things.
Ravenswood is gone from the schedule in 2021 and possibly for many years to come.
As Jackson Newspapers first reported last November, the two schools and the county’s school administration decided to end the historic Battle for the Hatchet series.
Ripley had won seven straight games, a school record against its arch-rival. The longest in the series is owned by Ravenswood at eight.
There will be eight games starting at 7:30 p.m. this season for the Vikings. The road game at Marietta and the home game with St. Albans both start at 7 p.m.