Ravenswood new coach Eric Hupp ready for gridiron

Photo provided Eric Hupp, pictured here talking to Trey Pickens as a Southern assistant coach, is ready to lead the Ravenswood football team this fall. The Red Devils kick off the season against Wahama at home Aug. 24.

RAVENSWOOD — Suffice it to say, expectations are high for the Ravenswood football program, which will be led by first-year head coach Eric Hupp.

Hupp, who also serves as the Red Devils’ wrestling coach, takes over the reigns from Kemp Kelly, whose squad just missed the Class A playoffs last fall after going 5-5 and finishing 17th in the computer ratings.

“It’s home. For me, it’s home,” admitted Hupp, who is a guidance counselor at Ravenswood Grade School and spent the past three years as an assistant for the Southern Tornadoes.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love the kids on both sides of the river. Between the two, this is home. I’ve got a good relationship with them. It’s home and this is where I want to be.”

Ravenswood, which boasts senior first team all-state linebacker Luke Jackson, graduated a lot of talent last fall, but the cupboard is far from bare.

“We’re going to have a strong team,” added the coach. “Luke Jackson is a tremendous leader on and off the field.”

Max Hilton, an honorable mention all-stater last season, is expected to run the offense as the signal-caller. He’ll have Jackson at fullback, probably Chase Hood as a running back, Sam Sturm as a wideout and the likes of Nick Williams and Kenley Hickman to help anchor the line.

“It’s early yet. We’ve got to see who we are going to have,” Hupp said when asked about specifics of the offense.

“We’ve got some real talented young kids coming up. Ideally, what I’d like to see us be able to do is run the ball and be a power running football team and running the ball between the tackles.

“(Jackson) will be that big hammer at fullback, clearing the way for the tailback, but I plan on feeding him the ball a good bit as well. He’s a tough runner, solid and strong, and probably one of the strongest on the team.”

Although Hupp’s coaching staff isn’t 100 percent solidified, five assistants from 2017 are back — assistant head coach Steve Titus, defensive coordinator Jason Jackson, Brandon Smith, Mickey Gump and Steve Sturm. Also, 2012 first team all-state linebacker and ex-Red Devil Brad Titus will serve as a volunteer assistant.

“I’m hoping to be in the mid 40s. We’re hoping to be,” added Hupp, whose squad started putting in their defense this week. “Right now, we are looking at 13-14 kids coming out as incoming freshmen. The really good thing of those guys, all but two have played middle school the last two years and been starters.

“Ravenswood has a long history of tradition and success and to be tapped as the next guy to take those reigns is exciting. We’re really looking forward to getting our flex days in July and getting into the first week of practice and getting into it.”

Ravenswood will have a 7-on-7 scrimmage at home against Eastern on June 22 and then go on June 26 to the 7-on-7 at St. Marys.

The first chance for Red Devil fans to watch their team in a regular scrimmage will be at 10 a.m. on Aug. 11 when Buffalo invades Flinn Field.

“The guys have been working hard,” said the coach. “They’ve been working out three or four times a week with the lifting and they’ve been pushing themselves.

“Those senior guys have really stepped up and pushed, making sure the guys are in the weight room and working hard.”