POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — Move over Oak’en Bucket, you have some competition.
Both Point Pleasant and Ripley have served as long-standing rivals over the course of their athletic endeavors, which includes their historic battles on the gridiron for the Oak’en Bucket — the trophy presented to the winner of that year’s contest.
Now, the two schools have come up with a way to add another dimension to their friendly rivalry while also spicing up another athletic season over the course of a school year.
PPHS coach John Bonecutter and RHS coach Matt Smith — both alums of their respective programs — saw a need to start having annual dual matches between the two schools back in 2011, which has led to some classic matches and nip-and-tuck outcomes.
Now, outside of bragging rights, the two wrestling programs will have something else to compete for … in the Battle for the Shields.
Both schools have a mascot that features the use of a shield, so the trophy that the grapplers are competing for is a pair of half-shields combined to be one shield. The left half of the shield is representative to the Vikings, while the right side is dedicated to the Big Blacks’ shield.
In addition to the design, the winning program of the annual dual will not only take home the trophy for a year — but the winning team will also have its victorious season added to the shield.
As both coaches worked on this concept idea, they agreed to go ahead and add the previous results to the shield going back to the 2011 campaign. PPHS currently owns a 3-2 advantage in the dual results, but the 2014 contest was cancelled due to weather.
PPHS won 40-27 in 2011, 43-27 in 2013 and 40-34 in 2015. Ripley collected wins in 2012 (46-24) and also won last year by a 61-12 margin.
This year’s dual meet with Ripley is at 6 p.m. Thursday at Point Pleasant High School. The two programs are loaded with talent, which should make for an interesting evening of competition in their final tune-ups vefore the postseason.
The two programs have a combined 15 grapplers that are ranked in the top-10 of the state, with Ripley holding a slight 8-7 advantage in that category.
The Vikings have six wrestlers ranked in the top-three in their respective Class AAA weight classes, while PPHS has a quartet of top-five grapplers in the Class AA ranks.
Ripley has 26 individual state champions in its illustrious history, but the program has never captured a team title at the state level.
The Big Blacks have 21 individual state champions and also three-peated as Class AA state champions from 2010-12.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.