JT Kemp amped for senior year

Less than a week away from the start of the prep gridiron season, Ripley’s JT Kemp is more than a little anxious.

The Parkersburg South transfer, who arrived in Jackson County this past December, already has paid dividends for the Vikings.

During baseball season, he played first base and was a solid bat for skipper Shane Casto.

Now, Kemp is set to finish his last year of football for third-year Ripley head coach Eddie Smolder.

Of course, the Vikings welcome Kemp’s old team — the Patriots from Parkersburg South — on Friday night to Death Valley (Memorial Stadium).

“Well, the thing is, I’m putting that aside,” Kemp said of all the potential hoopla. “That’s going to be my first game my senior year. This is my favorite thing to do. I love this sport more than anything and I’m just going to be thankful to be out here on the field with a bunch of great teammates that we’ve all worked hard with.

“But, that’s beside the point. The kids I’m playing against I’m close with and the kids I’m playing with I’m close with. God’s blessed me with another year, luckily, and Lord willing I’ll be healthy and be able to play and have a good season and we can just have a great game and hopefully come out with a win.”

When it comes to the season opener for Parkersburg South and Ripley, one never knows quite what to expect.

One thing which is for certain is the victor of this tilt definitely has a leg up when it comes to being one of the final 16 teams to reach the postseason in Class AAA, which is a place Ripley hasn’t been to since 2009.

“JT is new and a few other guys came along who were new, but it doesn’t matter,” said Viking senior quarterback Brayden Campbell. “They come in and they are instantly part of the family and part of us.

“Other teams I know have big difficulties with bonding with the team and everything else, but we are completely different and we do real well with each other and I’ll be honored to graduate and say I played on this team with these guys.”

Although Kemp realizes just about every other team in the Mountain State is working hard, too, he’s ready to give it his all in order to help the Vikings end their playoff drought.

“We don’t expect anything less and nothing more,” Kemp said of qualifying for the postseason. “We are going to make the playoffs and that’s just how it’s going to be. We’re all working for it and we’re putting in the work.

“I’ve been on a lot of teams and a couple good teams and I saw how they work and this team is the hardest working one of them all. I’m really proud to be a part of it.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com