FINAL: Ripley 28, North Pontotoc 14 (Two quarters)
RIPLEY–Friday night, the Ripley Tigers looked like a football team more than ready to get the 2023 season started. The Tigers dominated the majority of a two-quarter scrimmage against the visiting North Pontotoc Vikings and cruised to a 28-14 win.
Lined up at defensive back, early in the 1Q, Strong stepped in front of a North Pontotoc pass, picked it off, and raced 53 yards for the Tigers’ second score of the game and a 14-0 lead.
In the second quarter, Strong took a handoff off the lefthand side, bounced IT outside and found daylight for a 46-yard TD run to give the Tigers a 21-14 lead with just under four minutes to play. Strong touched the ball six times for 82 yards on the ground.
After forcing a North Pontotoc 3-and-out, Ripley got its final score from Demarion Williams The senior fullback capped a two-play drive with a 1-yard plunge. Junior RB Jalen Brooks set up the score with a 41-yard gain, a play earlier.
Ripley got on the board on its second drive of the game. Junior RB Adin Wilson started the scoring with a 33-yard touchdown run. He finished the night with 58 yards on five carries.
On the night, Ripley totaled 186 rushing yards, just 10 yards off their 2022 average of 197 yards per game.
NEW SIGNAL CALLER
Ripley junior QB Jack Reid started the first of what could be many games over the next two seasons. Reid became the signal caller a year ahead of schedule due to two-year starter Ty Long having surgery on his non-throwing elbow.
Offensive coordinator TJ Seago and Ripley head coach Perry Liles thought Reid “played well,” in the dress rehearsal. Both coaches noted that Reid made a couple of “good throws” while “missing” others. Reid completed 2-of-5 passes for 38 yards. He did throw a second-quarter interception, but Seago said he believes the things that led to the turnover are minor fixes.
Defensively, Ripley picked up where it left off in 2022. Under the direction of fourth-year defensive coordinator Chad White, the Tigers limited the Vikings to just 70 yards on 19 carries. And 62 of those yards came from the legs of dual-threat QB Drew Winter. He carried the ball 17 times and scored on a QB sneak to cut Ripley to 14-7 late in the first quarter.
Winter also had 19 passing attempts, completing 10 for 132 yards and one passing TD.
REGULAR SEASON OPENER
Now Ripley will turn their attention to next week’s regular-season opener. The Tigers open up Thursday, Aug. 24 on the road at Charleston, the defending Class 2A North Half champs. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Liles spent time as head coach of Charleston before moving on to Calhoun City. He said he put them on the schedule this season to give his players some early looks at the speed they always face in the playoffs. Liles thought the speed of Louisville played a huge role in Ripley’s second-round playoff loss to the eventual Class 4A champs in 2022.