’Jackets coach nears milestone

WILLIAMSTOWN – Williamstown football coach Terry Smith is quick to point out his approaching milestone could not have taken place without his assistants.

Smith enters his 10th season at the helm with a career record of 98-19. He has one state championship to his credit.

“It’s as much as these guys (my coaching staff) over here as it is me,” said Smith, who admits he has a little more patient as time has passed. “Most of these guys have been here the whole time as well. They allow you to do the little things because as a head coach you just can’t concentrate on football.”

* Numbers Game: If you want to see how economic woes and a declining local economy can effect a high school sports program, look no further than Ravenswood, which has been subject to plant closings and serious job losses.

This year’s version of the Red Devils football team is just 31 strong. That’s including freshmen. That’s an alarming number for a Class AA program, but is is a sign of the economic times.

Ravenswood’s declining school enrollment has the school just four boys short of becoming a Class A program. It’s likely by the time the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission takes its next population census, Ravenswood will fall into the small school division, just as Magnolia did in recent years.

Although the Red Devils are playing two of the top Class A programs in the Little Kanawha Conference -Williamstown and St. Marys -there isn’t much difference in enrollment between the schools.

* Daily Mail Poll: Although it means nothing as far as the playoffs are concerned, the Charleston Daily Mail poll always is a good indicator of team strengths.

It’s an especially useful tool early in the season, before the WVSSAC releases the first set of computer ratings.

It represents the opinions of 10 members of the West Virginia Sports Writers Association from around the state, including News and Sentinel Sports Editor Dave Poe. It’s always interesting to see where our local teams start out the season and compare that to where they finish. The initial poll is on Page 4B.

* Rookie vs. Rookie: When Parkersburg South visits Ripley for its season opener on Friday, Aug. 30, it will pit a a pair of first-year head coaches whose previous assignment was in Ohio.

Parkersburg South’s Mike Eddy was the head coach at Gallia Academy while Ripley’s Dave Tennant ran the football program at Eastern. Tennant brought with him to Ripley as his offensive coordinator, Kemp Kelly, who for years ran the Ravenswood offense before joining Tennant last year at Eastern.

Eddy, who was part of a pair of state titles when he served as defensive coordinator at Parkersburg High School, has put together a staff that includes former South head coach Rich Williams, former PHS assistant coach Matt Kimes and former South and West Virginia University standout Cody Nutter.

* New blood: A few old faces departed and a few new ones arrived for Mark Batton and his coaching staff at Magnolia.

Bob Ripley spent nearly 40 years on the Magnolia sidelines before retiring during the offseason. Also stepping down after nearly seven seasons with the Blue Eagles was Moke Riggs.

“Those two guys will be extremely tough to replace,” Batton said.

The transition will be made easier in the fact that Craig Mason and Josh Sims played on Ripley’s defensive unit, along with current assistants Eric Mason and John Smith.

“They know that defense, and they have the ultimate respect for coach Ripley,” Batton said. “These guys we have now are enthusiastic. I’m probably one of the proudest coaches in the valley because I have four former players who came back and wanted to give back to the program.”

* Jury still out: Word has been trickling throughout Paden City about the impact of freshman Hayden Hizer, who is classified as a natural athlete.

The 5-foot-8, 152-pounder is projected as a possible starting point guard for the boys basketball team, but in the meantime he will display his skills at either quarterback or running back for the Wildcat football team. Hizer also is slated to start at defensive back.

“Hayden has phenomenal skills as a freshman,” Paden City coach Brent Croasmun said. “He has some special abilities that you just don’t coach. They are natural instincts.

“I’m looking forward to giving him a chance to defend people and put the ball in his hands offensively.”