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100 years after first game, Red Devils, Vikings battle for the Hatchet

Ripley has won five straight versus Ravenswood

RIPLEY — The Vikings have it and the Red Devils want it, The old Hatchet will be on the line for the 65th time on the 100th anniversary of the first game played, as the cross-county rivals look to end their season with county bragging rights Friday night at Memorial Stadium.

Both wishing the season would go better than planned, Ravenswood and Ripley enter the contest with the exact record of 3-6.

Ripley will be unable to make the playoffs even with a win, the Vikings could have been 7-2 if the ball bounced in favor of the blue and white. Losing four games by one possession (Riverside 28-26, Marietta (Ohio) 21-14, Greenbrier East 34-28 and 42-34 to Princeton.

“It’s been a tough season, we’ve been competitive all year. We’ve lost four games by a touchdown or less, so we’ve been close and you know a lot of our losses just came up a little bit short,” fifth-year head coach Eddie Smolder said. “We’re not giving up, we are pushing ahead and we are excited about playing Ravenswood on Friday.”

Lady luck wasn’t kind to the Red Devils either during the 2019 season, dropping two games by a score or less to Buffalo (20-14) and Roane County (14-7) both at home.

Not winning a game in front of Red Devil fans, Ravenswood is 3-1 on the road with wins coming at Wahama, 28-14, Sherman, 33-0 and Southern (Ohio), 42-35.

The Red Devils would love nothing more to play spoilers on Ripley’s senior night and to bring the Hatchet back to Ravenswood after spending five years in Ripley’s trophy cabinet.

“They’re pretty aware of the history and the rivalry between Ravenswood and Ripley, they understand the Hatchet and what it symbolizes,” Red Devil defensive coordinator Jason Jackson said. “It’s not about hate or anything like that, it symbolizes bringing differences together and it’s something to play for to put all your effort in. Our guys all week have had the best practices of the year, it’s pretty special.

Going from receiver to under center, Senior Noah Westfall has performed nicely rushing, Westfall has rushed for 468 yards with six TDs and completed 33 passes on 74 attempts with 341 yards, three TDs and five interceptions.

Primarily a running team, the Vikings will try to control the ball and wear down the Red Devils’ defense.

Expect to see seniors running back Cam Ramsey, fullback Austin Rhodes and junior Kadin Hall to get the carries out of the backfield. Ramsey has a team-high 824 yards on the ground and six scores, while Hall has eight TDs and 430 yards rushing.

Ravenswood also went through a switch under center midway through the season when senior Jaycob Creel suffered a broken throwing hand versus Doddridge County. Unable to throw due to his cast, Creel switched to receiver as fellow senior Sam Sturm took the play-calling duties.

The cast doesn’t seem to affect the senior at all, as Creel has had an interception in back-to-back games for the Red Devil defense and now has four on the year.

Senior fullback, linebacker and punter Jacob Anthony has been making his presence known on both sides of the ball. Being the power back in the Red Devils’ backfield, Anthony leads the team in both yards (815), carries (122) and touchdowns (8).

Anthony also leads the team in tackles with 80, 18 for a loss and has a Mid-Ohio Valley best six blocked kicks. Senior running back Chase Hood has reached paydirt three times along with 385 yards on 85 carries. Senior running back Wayne Stephenson is third on the team with 288 yards, two TDs and is second with 70 tackles at linebacker.

Red Devils head coach Eric Hupp was unable to be reached.

Contact Tyler Bennett at tbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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