Season review: Ravenswood football suffers through difficult 2021 campaign
There are times in life when things simply don’t go as planned.
Eric Hupp knows this all too well.
Hupp’s fourth Ravenswood Red Devil football battled week to week during the 10-game regular season.
The effort, though, didn’t produce the results anyone wanted.
And in the end, the red and black suffered through a winless season, which is only the second in the long and storied history of the program.
“It isn’t a season none of us expected in June or July,” said Hupp. “We never dreamed we come out of it 0-10.
“We did well in the 7-on-7’s and in our two scrimmages.”
Turnovers and penalties are a part of football.
For Ravenswood, those miscues happened at the worst possible time.
“It seems like we would take one step forward, but then take two steps back,” said Hupp.
Those issues certainly didn’t help while playing quality foes.
Heading into the semifinal round of the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission’s Playoffs, three of the four teams in Class A still alive dotted the Ravenswood schedule.
Doddridge County, Williamstown and Ritchie County were all gunning for berths in the state championship game December 4 at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Doddridge and Williamstown were slated for a rematch from the regular season (won by Williamstown) while Ritchie was set to host Wheeling Central.
In addition to those three, Sherman was another Class A playoff team.
Roane County, who Ravenswood closed out the season against, reached the second round of the Class AA playoffs.
“We played some quality teams,” said Hupp.
While it would be easy to dwell on the negative, Hupp said there were several signs that Ravenswood football had its share of positive moments.
“Our offense put up yardage,” said Hupp.
The defense stood tough at times, but too often watched their opponent operate with a short field.
“I think the opposition averaged staring at our 45-yard line,” said the Devil leader.
Isaiah Casto was the leading rusher for a second straight year as he once again neared the 1,000-yard barrier.
Casto accumulated 844 yards on 161 carries. He had three 100-yard games and scored seven touchdowns.
“Isaiah ran the ball well all year,” said Hupp. “Our offensive line blocked well. We had teams lining up eight in a box and we still managed to open holes and get him loose.”
Hupp praised those up front in Ethan Lane, Brandon Bragg, Blake Ball, Andrew Francis and J.J. Lent.
“We had a strong offensive line.”
Wes Hill rushed for 232 yards on 52 carries and scored three touchdowns. Sean Banks touched the ball 13 times and accumulated 144 yards while scoring one TD. Jacob Bowling had 192 yards on 48 carries and scored twice. Noah Dawson picked up 22 yards on five carries.
Bowling passed for 892 yards, completing 47-of-99 passes. He threw for eight touchdowns while dealing with 12 interceptions.
Hill and Casto each completed 14 passes for 179 and 172 yards, respectively. Casto suffered one interception.
Dawson completed 11 passes for 135 and had one interception. Banks completed one pass for six yards.
Banks was the team’s top receiver, catching 21 passes for 374 yards and scoring twice.
Hill snagged 19 passes from his fullback/tight end spots for 324 yards and two touchdowns.
Bowling occasionally shifted out to a receiver spot and displayed his versatility by hauling in 16 passes for 191 yards. He scored two touchdowns on the receiving end.
Dawson caught nine passes for 176 yards and scored once. Wyatt Milhoan had seven catches for 205 yards and found the end zone twice. Jaden Sayre had two catches for nine yards. Xavier Rodriguez and Noah Simmons each caught a pass.
Hill was the team’s leading tackler with 80 stops.
Others contributing on the prevent side were: Sayre (63), Rodriguez (47), Brett Parsons (46), Deondre Briggs (44), Banks (34), Lane (34), Zane Balis (22), Brandon Haynes (18), Bowling (15), Tyce Price (14) Bragg (13), Dawson (11) and Lent (10).
Hill had three sacks on the season. Dawson and Price had interceptions. Banks, Hill, Parsons, Lane, Ball and Brian Phelps had fumble recoveries.
“Ethan Lane did a phenomenal job for us,” said Hupp. “He’s a tough kid and is hard for teams to handle.
“Wes Hill played all kinds of different spots."
Ethan Tanner converted 17-of-20 extra points during the season.
Ravenswood will lose a solid group of seniors in Banks, Rodriguez, Casto, Hill, John Eden, Francis, Parsons, Bragg, Lane, Ball, Price. Lent and Tanner.
Hupp appreciates all those playing their final season in 2021 did for the program.
While seasons such as the one that just wrapped up are hard to endure, he feels all involved played a part in trying to get the program moving forward in the right direction.
“We will be young but we’re building for next year. We will work to fix things,” Hupp said of the upcoming 2022 season.
Offseason conditioning will be vital.
Hupp is no longer the head wrestling coach at Ravenswood.
“For the first time I will be able to spend the entire offseason with the boys (football players),” he said. “The last two years, COVID-19 hasn’t allowed us to do the things the way we like (in the weight room). Our weight program is based off the WVU weight program. We are going to keep working.”
And sooner, rather than later, Ravenswood football will shine once more.