Ripley High Vikings fall in Homecoming football game to Oak Hill; Roane’s Raiders are next

Mark Martin
Special to Jackson Newspapers

When its long-time “Battle for the Hatchet” series with rival Ravenswood was put on hold for the time being, Ripley had won seven straight games against the Red Devils.

There was no Hatchet on the line when Ripley hosted Oak Hill’s Red Devils Friday night, Sept. 24, at Memorial Stadium.

And it’s a good thing.

In the first-ever meeting between the two schools, the Red Devils not only waltzed in and took home a 47-26 victory but in the process put a damper on the Ripley High Homecoming celebration.

There is a term in football coaches like to use that says, “Speed kills.”

And Oak Hill’s speed got the best of the Vikings, who are now 1-4 halfway through the 2021 season. Oak Hill moved to 2-3.

“Too much speed,” said Viking football leader Steve Sayre in summing up the contest.

“We did not play good football. We just had a lot of missed tackles.”

Tackling Oak Hill’s dynamite back Leonard Farrow proved to be a problem.

“He could play for anyone in the state,” said the second-year head coach.

Farrow raced 75 yards just two minutes into the game to put the Red Devils on the board. An Ethan Vargo-Thomas extra point was blocked.

Ripley came right back with Ty Stephens and Eli Miller on a pass play. After the reception, Miller pitched the ball back to Joey Ramsey at the 5-yard line. Ramsey found his way into the end zone for the Ripley score. A 2-point try was unsuccessful leaving the score tied at 6-6.

Farrow would close out the first quarter with two more TD runs of 17 and eight to give the Red Devils a 20-6 advantage at the end of one.

Ripley closed the gap momentarily with a Stephens TD pass of 25 yards to Ramsey followed by Homecoming queen Katy Lawrence's extra point in the second quarter.

The 20-13 margin was as close as Ripley could get the rest of the night.

Jacob Ward fired a pair of second quarter TD passes of 34 and 25 to Vargo-Thomas and Braxton Hall, respectively, to put the Devils up 34-13 at the half.

Farrow had a TD run of 13 yards in the third and another of three yards in the fourth.

Ripley managed two scores in the final quarter on a 15-yard run by Brady Anderson and a Stephens TD pass to Hunter Brown from seven yards out.

“I thought we did some good things on offense, but we just aren’t consistent,” Sayre said. “I thought Ty threw the ball well."

Stephens was 15-of-23 for 143 yards.

Ripley junior quarterback Ty Stephens looks downfield to throw in Ripley's loss to the Oak Hill Red Devils. Stephens completed 15-of-23 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Stephens and the Vikings meet Roane County at home Friday night, Oct. 1.

Oak Hill piled up 532 yards of total offense.

Farrow accumulated 229 on the ground by running the ball 17 times.

“He has a different gear,” Sayre said.

Omar Lewis picked up 58 yards on five carries and Elijah Gray had 55 on five rushes.

Anderson just missed cracking the century mark for the Vikings, finishing with 94 yards on 18 carries. Ramsey had 68 on 19.

Ramsey caught six passes for 75 yards while Miller snagged six for 43. Anderson had one for five.

Ripley’s defense was led by Virgil Myers who had five solo stops and an assist. Collen Moore had four solos and an assist.

Brown made three solos and two assists.

Ramsey had two solos and two assists.

Stephens averaged 34.7 yards on three punts.

Roane County is next

Ripley flips the page to the second half of the season and will entertain the Roane County Raiders Friday night, Oct. 1, at Memorial Stadium.

The Ripley Vikings begin the second half of the season on Friday night, Oct. 1, at home against the Roane County Raiders. The Vikings will be aiming their second win of the year inside the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium.

Paul Burdette’s 2021 squad will make the trek from Route 33 with a 3-1 mark.

The Raider victories have come over defending Class A state champion St. Marys, 6-0, Lewis County, 55-0, and Buffalo, 22-3. The lone loss was handed out by Lincoln County, 30-28. Lincoln County defeated Ripley earlier in the year, 50-28.

Roane had a game called off earlier in the season against Clay County, who had a COVID-19 situation at its school.

“This is the best team they’ve had in quite a while,” said Sayre of the Raiders.

“They have a lot of seniors. They have a good plan. They are hard-nosed and they are physical.”

Roane is led by quarterback Shadraq Greathouse, a very solid passer who also possesses good mobility.

“He’s an excellent high school quarterback,” Sayre said.

Greathouse has been a key component to Roane football since he was a freshman.

A year ago he suffered a broken collar bone in the season opener against Lincoln County and missed most of the year.

Besides Greathouse, Roane’s offensive weapons include running back Briar Begler and wide receiver Lane Epling.

Begler, too, suffered a broken collar bone in the season opener last year and never returned.

He is the leader of a ground game that can do a nice job of playing keep-away.

“In their win over Buffalo, they kept control of the ball,” Sayre said.

Colton Paxton and Ory May are outstanding linebackers for the Raiders.

“We just have to regroup and get back after it,” said Sayre.

The Viking head coach knows his team has a lot of challenges ahead, but a winning record and playoffs are still a possibility.

Friday’s game is set to begin at 7:30 p.m.

Viking game notes

Ripley leads the overall series with Roane County, 10-1.

Current Mountain State Athletic Conference Commissioner Jim Hamric was the first head coach at the school when it opened in 1993.

Hamric had been the head coach for several years at Spencer High, winning a Class AA state title in 1991.

Spencer and Walton merged to form RCHS.

Burdette is a former Raider standout and is now in his 10th season as head coach for his alma mater.

Burdette is the fifth head coach in Roane history.

One of his assistants is Jackson County native Matt Peery, who played football at Ravenswood.

While Katy Lawrence was named Miss Viking in Ripley’s Homecoming game with Oak Hill, another Viking player — Colton Pepper — was named Mr. Viking.

Friday’s game between Roane and Ripley will air live on WCEF-FM (98.3) with Mark Johnson, Jeff Waybright and Phil Inman.