Ripley Vikings football team defeated by Greenbrier East; game with Shady Spring is next

Mark Martin
Special to Jackson Newspapers

Things started so well for the Ripley Vikings in the final home game of the 2021 season.

And then, Greenbrier East simply took over.

After spotting the Vikings an early 7-0 lead, the Spartans, who entered as a Top 16 team in the West Virginia Class AAA playoff race, scored the final 42 points of the game.

The 42-7 final left the Vikings at 1-7 on the campaign. It was Ripley's sixth straight defeat after defeating Buckhannon-Upshur early on in the year.

East bounced back from a loss to Oak Hill in improving its record to 5-2.

“They are a pretty good football team,” said Viking second-year head coach Steve Sayre. “We just couldn’t get the stops when we needed to.”

“We played hard,” Viking second-year head coach Steve Sayre said. “We just have a tremendous amount of things we have to improve on."

Ripley did manage to shut down the Spartans the first time they had the football. The Vikings then moved over to the offensive side and enjoyed success.

The Vikings put together a scoring drive capped by a 6-yard pass play from Ty Stephens to Blake Cummings. Katy Lawrence drilled the extra point for a 7-0 lead at the 3:57 mark of the first quarter.

“I thought we came out and played pretty good,” said Sayre. “We got the stop and drove down the field and scored.”

Everything would go downhill from there.

East answered with a score before the first quarter had ended. Ian Cline broke loose and found the end zone from 33 yards out. Noah Dotson’s extra point made it a 7-7 game.

It was the start of a big night for Cline, who would establish a new Greenbrier East rushing record with 271 yards on 28 carries.

East took its first lead of the game just a minute into the second quarter on a 15-yard run by Monquelle Davis. Dotson’s kick had the Spartans in front to stay at the 11:03 mark.

A 44-yard pass play from Davis to Bryson Omsbee put the Spartans up by two touchdowns. Dotson’s kick made it a 21-7 contest with 9:33 to go until halftime.

With just 28 seconds left before the break, Cline scored again for the Spartans. This play covered 14 yards. Dotson’s kick made it a 28-7 count as the teams headed to the locker room.

Cline punched it in two more times in the second half on runs of 21 (in the third quarter) and 50 (in the fourth quarter). Dotson was true on both point after attempts.

East rolled up 406 yards of offense to Ripley’s 187.

Davis was 6-of-10 through the air for 81 yards.

Ripley’s passing game netted 88 yards as Stephens completed 9-of-18, including the TD.

Joey Ramsey was Ripley’s leading ground gainer with 81 yards on 15 carries. Brady Anderson picked up 18 on seven carries.

Eli Miller hauled in three passes for 28 yards to lead the receiving department. Isaiah Casto had two catches for 46. Ramsey had a pair of receptions for four. Cummings had the TD catch for six and Anderson snagged a pass for four.

Hunter Brown had eight solo tackles and an assist to pace the prevent unit. Ramsey had five solos and two assists. Casto, Miller, Stephens, Brandon Deal and Parker Boyd all had three solos.

“We played hard,” Sayre said. “We just have a tremendous amount of things we have to improve on.

“We had three or four plays inside the red zone and couldn’t finish. We can’t stop the run and we can't get any offensive consistency. Those have been bugaboos all season long."

Shady Spring is next

The Vikings will look to get a little Spring it their step and end the losing streak on Friday night, Oct. 22.

The opponent: Shady Spring.

Ripley will invade Thomas Field for an encounter with Vince Culicerto’s crew, presently 4-3 on the season.

“They are another good football team. They are fighting for a playoff position,” said Sayre.

“The last three games of the season for us have three teams battling for the playoffs in East, Shady and Point Pleasant.”

Shady Spring opened the season with a 42-0 shutout against Tug Valley.

The Tigers then lost two straight to Nicholas County (38-14) and Independence (50-17).

They put together three straight wins after those losses by downing Summers County (19-12), Westside (forfeit) and Wyoming East (6-0).

Last week the Tigers were beaten soundly by Mingo Central (45-12).

The Tigers were just on the outside at No. 17 in the Week 7 ratings of Class AA. The Top 16 will reach the playoffs at the end of the season.

Sayre labels the Tigers as a "very athletic" football team.

“They have a quarterback (Cameron Manns) who is very tall and athletic. He throws the ball well. They have a nice tailback (James Sellards). They can run power football. They will be a real challenge for us,” said the Viking leader.

Manns was a starter on the Class AAA state championship basketball team.

Sellards is also a junior.

Junior Tyler Mackey is an outstanding receiver for the Tigers.

Defensively, the Tigers are led by linebacker Aden Seabolt, a senior.

Will Harmon, a junior, is an excellent kicker.

With two games left in the season, Sayre said his team will give it everything they have to come away with wins and finish on a high note.  

“We are back to work and we just have to take care of business,” Sayre said.

Viking football notebook

Ripley captured the first-ever meeting between the two schools last season, 38-14.

Shady Spring is located in Raleigh County near The Resort at Glade Springs.

It was a banner 2020-21 school year for Shady as the Tiger golf, volleyball and boys basketball teams all won state championships.

Culicerto is the youngest of nine children (seven boys and two girls).

His father, Pete Culicerto, was the head football coach at Beckley Woodrow Wilson from 1976-1999.

In 1977, his Flying Eagles captured the Class AAA state championship over Fairmont Senior High School, 6-0, to finish a perfect 12-0.

The contest was played on a frigid Saturday afternoon inside Ripley’s Memorial Stadium.

The elder Culicerto also enjoyed success as a track and field head coach.

He was a close friend and Beckley Junior College basketball teammate of Ripley’s late coaching great Frank Marino.

Vince Culicerto’s older brother, Phil, is Shady's defensive coordinator and was the quarterback for the '77 state championship team.

Ripley will be playing on the brand new turf installed over the summer at Shady’s Thomas Field.

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