Ripley High School football team loses game with Lincoln County, confronts Marietta next

Mark Martin

Prior to the Friday, Sept. 10, game with Lincoln County, Steve Sayre, Ripley’s second-year head coach, noted how much better the Panthers were from a year ago.

A lot of returning players were part of Sayre’s evaluation with Isaiah Smith being at the top of the list.

Smith and company proved to be the team Sayre had spoken of in handing the Vikings a 50-21 setback inside Hamlin’s Lions Club Field.

The Vikings fell to 1-2 on the season by dropping a second road game in 2021.

Smith was a one-man wrecking crew against the Vikings by amassing over 500 yards of total yards for the Panthers, who moved to 2-1 on the season and defeated Ripley for just the second time in program history. The first win against the Vikings by Lincoln County came back in 2010.

“They’ve got a real solid team. Smith is an outstanding running back. They’ve got seniors who can play,” said Sayre.

A good battle waged between the Vikings and Panthers in the first quarter. Lincoln County jumped to a 16-0 lead on a TD pass from quarterback Gabe Bates to Nolan Shimp on a 20-yard pass play. Shimp then ran it in for the two-point conversion.

A Ripley offensive drive stalled resulting in a punting situation. It was a punt Smith would return 80 yards for a score. Bates then hit Isaiah Koontz on the two-point try giving the Panthers a 16-0 advantage with 9:02 remaining in the first.

Ripley would recover with back-to-back touchdowns. Ty Stephens hit Blake Cummings on a 15-yard pass play at the 3:39 mark. The extra point kick was blocked by the Panthers.

Ripley got another TD before the quarter ended on a short run by Brady Anderson. Stephens then hit Anderson with a pass for the two-point try, making the count 16-14 at the end of the quarter.

The Anderson TD was set up on a nice punt return by Eli Miller.

A scary moment occurred in the second quarter when Cummings sustained a neck injury that stopped the game for a lengthy amount of time.

The moment was difficult for Sayre, who loves all of his players like they are his own. Cummings is the Viking head coach’s grandson.

Sayre noted the injury was a bruised neck and Cummings should be able to return to action either this week (against Marietta) or next (against Oak Hill on Sept. 24).

The 16-14 score would be as close as Ripley could get the remainder of the night.

Lincoln County added three more scores in the second quarter in racing out to a 36-14 halftime advantage.

Smith scored on a 62-yard run, another punt return of 85 yards and hauled in an 80-yard pass from Bates. Bates scored on a two-point conversion following the punt return. The other two tries were unsuccessful.

In the third, Smith dashed 22 yards and Bates connected with Adkins for another score.

Ripley got its final score on a 1-yard run by Anderson. Katy Lawrence hit the extra point.

Sayre said despite the loss there were bright spots.

“I thought we threw the ball well and made some nice catches,” the Viking leader staged. “Some of our young kids went in and played pretty well.”

Ripley's Joey Ramsey hauls in a pass for the Ripley Vikings in the fourth quarter leading to a Viking touchdown in a loss to Lincoln County.

Marietta is next

It will be like old home week for Sayre as he takes his Vikings into Don Drumm Stadium Friday, Sept. 17, for a showdown with the Tigers of Marietta, Ohio.

Sayre served as Marietta’s head coach from 1987-92.

“It’s always great going back there,” said Sayre. “I have a lot of great memories.”

Now his hope is to see his Vikings create a great memory with a victory to even the season record at 2-2.

“We’ve got to do a better job of handling things on the road,” he said. “We’ve got to take care of business.”

Sayre is impressed with the team at the school where he once coached.

“Marietta’s got a good football team. They are big on the line. They have a really good running back (Zach Bartlett). They like to play ball-control,” he said.

Marietta is coming off a 40-12 win over Robert Wright out of Washington, D.C., at home.

Bartlett rushed for 216 yards in 35 carries. The Tigers produced 328 yards on the ground.

Marietta threw just one pass in the game, a completion for five yards.

Viking game notes

Ripley leads the series with the Tigers, 2-1.

Both wins have come at home while the loss at Don Drumm.

The stadium is also home to Marietta College.

The field turf is gray with blue end zones.

Jason Schob is in his eighth season as head coach at MHS.

When Sayre coached at Marietta he was voted Southeastern Ohio Athletic Coach of the Year in the 1990 campaign.

The Ripley game will be Marietta’s fourth in its first five games.

The Tigers will then go on the road for four straight.

Ripley is one of three West Virginia opponents the Tigers play. The other two are Weir and Brooke.

The game will air live on WCEF-FM (98.3) and with Brian Johnson, Jeff Waybright and Phil Inman.