Ripley’s Tennant is ready

Former Eastern High School grid boss Dave Tennant is more than happy with his new home as the head football coach at Ripley High School.

The Fairplain Elementary School teacher spent the last two years as the head man of the Eagles, taking them from a 3-7 record to a 6-4 mark and what could’ve been a state playoff berth in Ohio’s Division 23 if not for a season-ending loss to rival Southern last fall.

Now, he’s back as a Viking, where he coached three years ago as an assistant to Jimmy Frashier, who has moved on to Ravenswood as an assistant principal.

“Just like I told everybody I’ve talked to when I was at Ripley, I fell in love with it, the area, the school and the football team,” said Tennant, who is the 22nd head coach in Ripley Viking history.

“It’s my dream job and I told them I would’ve waited as long as it took to get my opportunity to coach there. I was just lucky enough for it to open up as soon as it did.”

A graduate of Wahama High School, this marks the second prep coaching job of his career.

Before coaching at Eastern, he spent time working at a fitness center and also for Velocity Sports Performance.

“I pretty much worked with athletes all over Cleveland from St. Ignatius to St. Edwards to Mentor,” he said. “I was around a lot of good football for three years and before that I was an assistant coach at Wahama for two seasons.”

While Tennant’s assistant coaching staff isn’t 100 percent complete yet, it’s close to being a done deal. Former Ravenswood assistant coach Kemp Kelly, who was with Tennant last year at Eastern, will be the Vikings’ offensive coordinator.

“It’s no secret, coach Kelly, he loves the spread offense. We’re going to have a spread attack,” said Tennant, who noted they plan to take whatever the defense wants to give.

Tennant’s first test will come on Aug. 30 at home in Death Valley against Parkersburg South.

In the past few years I’ve covered some of those Patriot/Viking games and they usually are exciting and entertaining affairs. Hopefully, since I haven’t actually met coach Tennant in person yet, I’ll be able to cover his first game at Ripley.

Of course, being the head football coach at Ripley also means having the job of figuring out a way to compete in the always tough Mountain State Athletic Conference.

I know coach Frashier and his staff always did the best they could to prepare their players for that brutal slate, but it’s definitely a task that’s easier said to do than be done more often than not.

“I understand. There are no bye weeks,” Tennant said of the lack of breathers on the schedule.

Tennant’s goal is to one day in the near future have 20 football players for each class coming out to don pads for the Vikings.

“I’ve seen the potential and we have some good players. I’m expecting around 50-60 kids including freshmen this year,” he added.

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com