Ripley football team loses to St. Albans; Vikings to contend with Greenbrier East Oct. 15

Mark Martin
Special to Jackson Newspapers

Players and coaches will tell you that many times the most excruciating part of a football game is the wait.

Going through all the rituals in pre-game sometimes can seem like an eternity.

It certainly did for Steve Sayre’s Ripley Vikings in their latest showdown with St. Albans.

A scheduled 7:30 p.m. kickoff didn’t get underway until 9:30 p.m. due to lightning delays.

When play did start, things didn’t go well for the Vikings.

A lightning delay led to Ripley's game with St. Albans at Memorial Stadium not getting underway until 9:30 p.m. The Vikings fell to the Red Dragons, 26-14.

And in one of the latest finishes in Memorial Stadium history, Ripley would wind up on the short end of a 26-14 final.

The Red Dragons registered the first two touchdowns of the night, off of two Ripley fumbles, and maintained the lead throughout on their way to a second victory of the season.

St. Albans is now 2-5 while Ripley dropped to 1-6.

“The rain really wasn’t a factor,” said Ripley head coach Steve Sayre. “Those fumbles really put us back.”

Mike Hindman scored on a 3-yard run for SA to start the scoring. The Vikings blocked Ali Sexton’s PAT.

In the second quarter, Eli Littlejohn scored on a 1-yard run and the Vikings blocked another extra point attempt.

Ripley would get on the board with 4:44 remaining in the first half on a 1-yard run by Joey Ramsey. Katy Lawrence drilled the PAT to make it a 14-7 count.

Ripley’s momentum was dashed before halftime when Hindman completed a 14-yard pass to Chris Hall. Littlejohn then hit Ruben Johnson on a 2-point conversion play to give St. Albans a 20-7 halftime edge.

Early in the fourth, Ripley again got to within a touchdown on a 3-yard run by Ramsey. Carter Cochran’s kick was good to make it 20-14.

Cochran nailed the kickoff into the end zone, putting SA at the 20.

St. Albans would put the game away on a 1-yard run by Hindman to cap off an 80-yard drive. The 2-point try was no good.

“We fought to get back in it, but just couldn’t get the stops when we needed on their last drive,” Sayre said.

SA rolled up 310 yards of total offense to Ripley’s 105.

The Red Dragons had 222 on the ground. Ripley managed 91 running the ball and 14 through the air.

Littlejohn rushed for 85 yards to pace the SA rushing attack.

Ramsey had 98 of Ripley’s yards. Brady Anderson picked up 37.

Ty Stephens was 4-of-11 through the air for 14 yards.

Ripley quarterback Ty Stephens looks out at the defense in Ripley's showdown with St. Albans.

Ramsey had a catch for 17 yards and Blake Cummings snagged an 8-yard pass. Isaiah Casto had two catches but they resulted in negative yardage.

Eli Miller paced the Viking defense with nine solo stops. Austin Litton had six while Hunter Brown and Ramsey both had five.

Anderson, Carter Hall and Colton Pepper had three each.

Sayre was pleased with his team’s kicking game with Cochran, Lawrence and Stephens as the punter.

Greenbrier East is next

Ripley is back home for the final time in 2021 to face off with the Spartans of Greenbrier East.

The Spartans will come into the contest off their second loss of the season.

Oak Hill, who defeated Ripley a couple of weeks ago, downed East, 23-3, last week.

East lived in the red zone but mistakes and penalties cost the Spartans dearly as Oak Hill pulled the upset.

The Spartans went into that game at No. 9 in the latest Class AAA ratings.

“They’re really skilled,” said Sayre. “They won the opening week of the season over Point Pleasant (32-22) so that told me something about them.”

East has plenty of weapons.

Quarterback Monquelle Davis can hurt an opponent with both his passing and his feet.

Ian Cline is a durable running back. In a win over Beckley (28-14) this season, Cline carried the football 39 times.

Lucas McCallister is a versatile player. He is a strength in the return game for the Spartans.

Besides the loss to Oak Hill, East has fallen to Robert C. Byrd this season (31-16).

In addition to Point and Beckley, the Spartans have beaten Buckhannon-Upshur (56-14) and Mingo Central (55-12).

Sayre said the Oak Hill loss was a total shock. “Oak Hill has that outstanding back in (Leonard) Farrow and he can hurt a lot of teams.”

Sayre feels this is just another opportunity for his football team and program to find success and continue to grow.

“This is our last home game. It’s the last home game for the seniors,” he said. “That is always important. We’ve just got to continue to try to block and tackle better.”

Viking football notebook

Ripley leads the overall series with East, 3-2.

The two programs met twice in the 2018 season with Ripley taking both the regular season encounter (28-26) and a playoff game (43-15).

East won in 2019 in two overtimes.

East’s head football coach is Ray Lee, who is in his 10th season at the helm of the Spartans.

Lee’s coaching background includes being the leader of football program at Charlotte’s Johnson C. Smith.

Lee was the head coach for the South Cardinals in this past June’s WCHS-TV/FOX 11 North-South All-Star Football Classic.

He is eighth coach in Greenbrier East football history.

Greenbrier East’s football past includes playing for the AAA state championship under head coach Homer Criddle in 1988, falling to Charleston High at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown.

Greenbrier East is a consolidation of high schools in Lewisburg, Ronceverte, White Sulphur Springs, Frankford and Alderson.

East came into existence in 1968.

The school is located across from the West Virginia State Fairgrounds.

The Friday, Oct. 15, game will air live on WCEF-FM (98.3) with Brian Johnson, Jeff Waybright and Phil Inman.