RIPLEY - Last year at this time, Dave Tennant was the head football coach at Reedsville Eastern High School in Meigs County, Ohio. Meanwhile, in adjacent Gallia County, Mike Eddy was the head coach at Gallia Academy High School.
This year, both still are coaching in adjacent counties, but at different schools in a different state. When Parkersburg South opens its 2013 season tonight at Ripley, Eddy will be making his debut as the head coach of the Patriots while Tennant will be coaching his first game as the boss of the Vikings.
Both already have made a big impression on the young men of whom they are in charge. Talk to members of both teams and they will tell you how much they are impressed by their new mentors.
These are two young football teams anxious for their first competition of the season.
South-Ripley has become a traditional season opener, even though the Patriots play in the OVAC and Two Rivers Athletic conferences and the Vikings are a member of the Mountain State Athletic Conference. It has developed into a spirited rivalry between two schools located approximately 40 miles apart.
The Patriots are coming off a 6-4 season that saw South just miss out on a second straight trip to the state playoffs. Gone from that squad are two-time all-state selection Logan Cox, second team all-state linebacker Mack White, running backs Jordan Quiocho and Cody Hively, three-year starting quarterback Tyler Bolen as well as his favorite target, Braxton Johnson, and standout lineman Jake Fieler. Following that season, coach Jon Bolen resigned after six seasons at South.
Eddy inherits a young, inexperienced squad whose members are anxious to replace those who have graduated. The quarterback is sophomore Garrett Gilkeson, who showed during basketball season his impressive athletic ability. The featured running back will be junior Brendan Schwendeman, a three-sport athlete who also plays basketball and runs track.
Ripley also has different players in key positions. Junior Trevor Tucker and Jake Martin are the quarterbacks with basketball standout Kade Harrison their top target. Nathan Tucker, a senior, is the top wingback candidate.
Ripley is one of the best settings in the Mountain State for football with an artificial surface field located on a campus that has plenty of parking.