Ripley Tigers ride line to lopsided postseason victory

By Jay Tidwell/Special to the Journal

RIPLEY – Chad Cook enjoys how Ripley has been piling up the points, and he knows what’s behind it.
Cook’s Tigers racked in 577 yards in total offense and pounded Velma Jackson in a 71-33 win in the opening round of MHSAA Class 3A playoffs on Friday.
Afterwards, Cook said the prolific scoring is fueled by an offensive line that works hard.
“Three tight ends, Garfield Campbell, Hunter Harrison, Peyton Clark; left tackle Jamal Braddock, left guard Michael Story, center Hall Miskelly, right guard Jackel Jackson and right tackle Devonte Barkley,” Cook said.
“The credit for the success belongs to those guys.”
Ripley (8-4) travels to Charleston, the current Class 3A state champion, for round two next Friday.
Against Velma Jackson, the No. 3 team from Div. 4-3A, Ripley’s line opened up holes for quarterback Cody James to complete 13 of 20 for 218 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions, and run for 114 yards and two more scores.
Running back Montrell Gray also had 114 yards on six carries with two TDs.
“We’re playing as a team, and the offensive line is giving us great blocking,” said James, a senior, who also had a pick on defense. “We’ve got some intensity going right now.”
Ripley led 55-27 at halftime, with two pivotal touchdowns coming off blocked punts that put the Tigers inside Velma Jackson’s 20.
Antonio Mullins had a part in the first blocked kick that set up a 15-yard run by John Austin Moore with 6 minutes, 23 seconds in the first quarter. Mullins, a freshman, recovered the second muffed kick at the Panthers’ 16, and James passed to Isaih Howard for the score on the next play midway through the second period.
“They capitalized on our mistakes,” said Velma Jackson coach Cedrick Wilder. “Those two blocked punts led to 14 points and we were only down 21, and it could have been closer.”
Gray, a 5-foot-11, 235-pound senior, set the tone on the opening series. He plowed ahead for a 28-yard run, then bowled in from 5 yards out to open scoring with 10:40 showing in the first quarter.
Ripley’s Sedabris Boyd, a junior, finished with five catches for 107 yards and two TDs.
“We are focused like we’ve never been,” Cook said. “It takes all 11 of us being mentally in the game.”