Foose’s days as a Ravenswood Red Devil football player filled with fond memories

Mark Martin
Special to Jackson Newspapers

You could hear the enthusiasm, the love and the passion through the phone lines from Ravenswood great Ron Foose when discussing his days playing for the Red Devils.

Foose, who now lives in Port Charlotte, Fla., returned to Ravenswood in October to be honored with the latest class of inductees for the Ravenswood High School Red Devil Football Hall of Fame.

“It was so special,” Foose said fighting back the emotion.

As a member of the Ravenswood Class AA state championship football team of 1972, Foose starred on both sides of the ball as an end.

He earned Class AA First Team All-State honors during that memorable senior year.

He had several defensive stops and quarterback sacks in Ravenswood’s championship win over Magnolia.

Offensively that season, Foose caught 21 passes for 379 yards and scored seven touchdowns.

Foose and fellow senior Steve Seagraves were the ends on a team loaded with senior talent.

Making the Hall of Fame moment special was the fact that Seagraves, too, was one of the inductees for this year’s class.

Ron Foose (left) and Steve Seagraves (right) embrace during induction ceremonies for the Ravenswood High School Red Devil Football Hall of Fame. The duo were the offensive and defensive ends for Ravenswood's Class AA state championship team of 1972. Foose was coined the nickname "Moose" and Seagraves "Big Sea" by the late Bob Staats, who served as sports editor for The Ravenswood News.

Another member of the Hall of Fame class off the unbeaten 12-0 team of 1972 was Mike Workman, who, unfortunately, was unable to attend the ceremonies.

“I hated it that he couldn’t be there,” said Foose. “He called me one night and we talked for hours.”

Foose said relationships with players like Seagraves and Workman along with the coaches made that year and all of his days as a Ravenswood Red Devil extremely special.

Mention a name of someone from back in the day and Foose would immediately say, “Oh, my gosh” and then proceed to discuss the individual with such incredible passion and kindness.

The journey begins

Foose’s father (Jim) had worked in the coal mines near Beckley when he moved the family to Ravenswood in order to take a job at what was then Kaiser Aluminum (now Constellium).

“My dad had a lot of friends apply for jobs at Kaiser and that’s how we landed in Ravenswood,” Foose said.

The family resided in Colonial Manor.

“It was going to be temporary,” he said laughing. “But that’s where we ended up living the entire time I was in Ravenswood. We just never moved. It was wonderful.”

When he became of age, Foose started his ascent to one day being a Red Devil.

He played in all the youth leagues offered, which at the time consisted of just football, basketball and baseball.

“As a father, I appreciate what those volunteer coaches did for not only me, but all of my friends. It’s hard to describe what they meant to me in my young life,” Foose said.

“There were just a lot of wonderful people to give up their time for me and my friends.”

Foose named the likes of Tom Harbert, Chub Harless and Bo Hartley as just a few he recalls helping to mold him into an athlete who would one day star for the red and black.

He also lauded the friendships from a couple of older friends in Billy Joe Grandstaff and Bob Romeo for helping with his development at a young age.

Foose was a member of the blue-clad Colts in the old Ravenswood Midget Football League.

Blue, of course, is the color of rival Ripley.

While donning the blue of the Colts, Foose dreamed of one day wearing the colors of Ravenswood and helping the school’s football program accomplish big things.

His dream would certainly come true.

Becoming a Red Devil

Just as he had in the youth leagues, Foose played them all at Ravenswood High School.

The late Bob Staats, who served many years as sports editor for what was then The Ravenswood News, enjoyed doling out nicknames to various athletes. Anytime Foose’s name appeared in the paper (which was often), it came with the nickname “Moose” attached.

“I loved it,” Foose said laughing.

Foose quickly made his presence felt in high school.

“I made the varsity in football and baseball,” he said.

Foose would ultimately be listed at 6-3, 185, but admits he was pushing 200.

Before coming to high school, Foose watched the 1968 Red Devil team go 9-0 before being knocked out of a possible state championship when rival Ripley pulled the upset, 12-0, in the Hatchet game at Flinn Field.

Foose and his pals didn’t forget that disappointment.

By the time he was a senior in the fall of 1972, Ravenswood had assembled a star-studded cast, including Foose.

Ravenswood took names that season in rolling to a 10-0 regular season.

The Devils defeated St. Marys (31-6), Richwood (36-8), Williamstown (21-0), Warren Local, Ohio (41-7), Belpre (29-22), Spencer (48-6), Wahama (21-0), Point Pleasant (28-0), Ripley (21-12) and Calhoun (14-0).

When the playoffs rolled around, Ravenswood wouldn’t be denied.

For the first-time ever that season, four teams were granted entry through qualification into the playoffs in West Virginia’s three classes.

Taylor had been instrumental in getting the field expanded, especially after some of his teams had been kept out due to only two teams qualifying.

(These days, 16 teams reach the playoffs.)

As mentioned, Foose and Seagraves played on the edge of Ravenswood’s offensive and defensive lines.

Foose loved sharing the spotlight of the end positions with his good buddy Seagraves, who had earned the nickname “Big Sea,” from the legendary Staats.

“Steve was such a great player,” Foose said. “He played with his heart.”

Foose lined up beside of Workman on both sides of the ball.

“It was so special. My true dear friend. He (Workman) was a friend of mine since grade school (as were all the seniors),” Foose said.

The championship run

In the opening game of the playoffs, Ravenswood faced off with Ceredo-Kenova (now a part of Spring Valley High School) on the artificial turf of Fairfield Stadium, the old home of Marshall University football.

It was a first for Ravenswood football as the Devils played on a turf field.

“We were issued turf shoes. None of us had ever seen turf shoes before,” Foose said laughing.

The Devils definitely found the turf to their liking by taking down the Wonders in convincing fashion, 35-14.

With the victory, the 11-0 Red Devils moved on to the state championship game in Parkersburg against the Magnolia Blue Eagles.

While the C-K game was staged on the clean turf of Fairfield, the Class AA title contest would be played at muddy Stadium Field.

Ravenswood had been scheduled to play on Saturday. Taylor protested since the AAA game was slated to be there as well.

Thus, the Ravenswood-Magnolia game took place at 2:30 in the afternoon on Thanksgiving Day.

“That was so awesome to play on Thanksgiving Day,” Foose said.

It was the first and remains the only football title game in West Virginia history to be staged on Thanksgiving.

Again, the Devils emerged victorious.

The Devil defense made life hectic for Magnolia’s outstanding quarterback Brian Book, who would later play at Yale. Book passed on every offensive play for Magnolia in the second half, but the Devil defense kept the Blue Eagle air attack in check in pulling out a 14-6 victory.

The championship win for Foose and his teammates was unforgettable. It was something they had been thinking about since those days of youth football.

Foose said he couldn’t have scripted a better ending to his football days as a Ravenswood Red Devil.

“Our coaches, Coach (Fred) Taylor, Coach (Dick) Sturm, Coach (Keith) Winter, had us so prepared,” Foose said.

He was happy to play a part in the school winning its third state championship. Ravenswood would win a fourth in 1976.

While the team had a bevy of seniors, Foose also remembers the play of a couple of up-and-coming sophomores in Alan Hall and Joe Jelich, who were key ingredients to that championship team.

“They were tremendous,” Foose said of the two who helped Ravenswood go undefeated again in 1974 before bowing out in the opening round of the Class AAA playoffs. Hall later played at Marshall and Jelich at WVU.

As a two-way starter and special teams contributor, Foose cherished every second he was on the field.

“I really loved offense, but I loved getting in there on defense and smacking people. Whether it was the quarterback, the halfback or the fullback, I just wanted to make a play,” he said.

It's safe to say Foose did that numerous times that season.

Recalling his leaders

Foose said coming back for the Hall of Fame ceremony was extra special with the fact both Taylor and Sturm were on hand.

Ron Foose (right), affectionately known as "Moose" during his Ravenswood football playing days, was inducted into the Ravenswood High School Red Devil Football Hall of Fame this past season. Foose was a star at offensive and defensive end for the 1972 Class AA state championship team. He is pictured with his high school head coach Fred Taylor.

“Coach Taylor was definitely a man of his word,” Foose said. “He would tell you what you did, right or wrong. He stuck to it. I can’t say enough about him.”

Foose admitted getting upset once as a player and contemplated calling it quits.

After a long chat with Taylor, he changed his mind and is forever grateful in doing so.

“He (Taylor) said, ‘Ronnie, you need to think about this.’ What a wonderful man.

“It was absolutely breathtaking to see Coach Taylor and Coach Sturm (who later became Ravenswood’s head coach for 15 seasons).”

When Foose arrived in Ravenswood, his first stop was to visit his old stomping grounds. It was known as Flinn Field during his playing days. The venue was renamed Spano-Taylor Stadium at Flinn Field to honor both Taylor and the late Jim Spano, who won two titles as Ravenswood’s head football coach in the late ‘50s.

Foose was showing the field on his phone to a grandson when he was approached by Sturm’s son, Steve, a former Devil assistant. “I went over to see Coach Sturm at his house. It was so great.”

During the ceremonies, Robbie Taylor, Fred’s son, pulled up the 1972 championship game on his phone.

“Coach Taylor was doing play-by-play,” Foose said. “His recall was unbelievable.”

Besides football, Foose enjoyed his days as a Red Devil baseball and basketball player.

“I played baseball for Roger Snyder and (the late) Marcus McPhail,” he said.

He was a member of the late Jack Wiseman’s basketball program.

“Jack Wiseman was a wonderful man,” Foose said. “I had his wife Judy for a teacher.

“Coach Sturm was his assistant. And I had Coach (Howard) Copley. It was so great.”

Moving on

After graduation from Ravenswood, Foose joined the Army.

After two years in the service, he attended Fairmont State College (now University) to play football and baseball.

“Mike Workman was playing up there, so that’s where I went,” he said.

But after a year as a Falcon, Foose decided to make a change and headed off to West Virginia State College.

He played on the defensive side of the ball for head coach Oree Banks and was a catcher on the baseball team for the late Calvin Bailey.

Ironically, Bailey was working as a travelling physical education teacher in Jackson County during Foose’s memorable senior year at Ravenswood.

“I had a great time at West Virginia State,” said Foose.

The best part of all his State experience was meeting a beautiful student who would become his wife.

Foose and the former Mary Ann DiVita, who attended Charleston Catholic, have been married 44 years. They are the parents of three daughters and have six grandchildren (three boys and three girls).

One of his proudest moments in life was getting his degree from the school in business and marketing.

It didn’t come, though, when his playing days as a Yellow Jacket ended.

Work and family delayed the process.

But Foose exhibited the same determination he had as an athlete to ultimately accomplish the mission.

“Finally, through a lot of hard work, I got my degree in 1986.”

Foose has worked in the road safety industry most of his life.

He’s lived in Charleston, Birmingham, Alabama, Atlanta, Georgia, Raleigh, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and now the Sunshine State.

“It’s been a great life.”

He is presently director of operations for RoadSafe Traffic Systems Inc.

Tears of joy

When Ravenswood celebrated its 100th anniversary of football back in the season of 2014, Foose chatted on the phone for nearly an hour with long-time assistant Jason Jackson, who played a huge part in the numerous events that took place during the historic season.

“It was such a joy talking to him about Ravenswood football,” said Foose.

Fast-forward seven years later and Foose heard from Jackson again.

This phone call was to inform Foose that he was going to be inducted into the Ravenswood High School Red Devil Football Hall of Fame.

“I was driving along Interstate 4,” Foose recalled.

When Jackson gave Foose the news, he had to stop driving. 

“I pulled off the road and balled my eyes out. I just couldn’t believe it,” he said.

As time grew closer to Foose coming back to Ravenswood for that final game of the 2021 season and his induction, he was like a kid at Christmas.

“I can’t imagine what it’s like for a football player to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, for this was just incredible.”

While Foose left Ravenswood years ago, there never was a time he forgot about his beloved hometown and all the wonderful moments he enjoyed growing up with his buddies.

And not a day goes by in which he doesn’t think about those magical days as a Red Devil athlete, especially the storybook state championship season of 1972.

“The Lord has blessed us in so many ways,” he said. “It was an incredible life in Ravenswood.”

And Ron “Moose” Foose will forever be remembered as one of Ravenswood football’s very best.