5th Quarter Preview: Ritchie County

2019: 10-2 overall, reached Class A quarters
Published: Aug. 26, 2020 at 12:39 AM EDT
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ELLENBORO, W.Va (WDTV) - The Rebels of Ritchie County put their town on the map in 2019, earning the highest playoff seeding in program history at No. 2 overall with a 9-1 regular season record.

The Rebels won their first playoff game since 2013 before falling to eventual single A champion Wheeling Central in the quarterfinals.

“I thought we played Wheeling Central well but on that day, they were the better team,” said third year head coach Rick Haught. “In our first year, we got to travel to a playoff game. Last year, we got to have a home game and got into round two. We would like to get a little deeper. Your’e always looking to extend your season as much as you can.”

There is no doubt, though, that the culture has changed in Ellenboro for the better. The senior class began their high school careers with a 2-8 season in 2017, but have followed that up with back-to-back playoff appearances since Haught arrived.

“You just gotta expect playoffs,” senior tight end and defensive end Dakota Wayne said. “You gotta keep that in the back of your head when you’re going through practice. You have something to work for. When you weren’t winning games. you didn’t have anything to work for.”

13 of 22 starters are incumbents entering 2020, including sophomore quarterback and Coach Haught’s son, Ethan. He accounted for nearly 1,000 yards of offense last year with 17 touchdowns.

“Ethan is a year older and has a much better grasp of the offense. He’s throwing the ball pretty well, so I think that will add to what we are able to do this fall,” Haught said.

A big void is in the backfield with graduating senior Garrett Owens and Tre Moss, who elected to transfer to St. Marys for his senior season. Haught will be looking for overall athlete and second team all-state receiver Gus Morrison to produce offensively in their absence.

“Gus Morrison is going to get a look in the backfield. We gotta find ways to get him in a position to get him the ball because he has some unique skills.”

The Rebels begin their 2020 quest next Friday against Magnolia.

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