Changes on the gridiron
Ripple named new football coach at Thomas Stone
Soon after accepting the position as head coach at Thomas Stone High School in Waldorf, Danny Ripple admitted that he has traveled a longer, different path to his first head coaching job.
Ripple, a 2001 Northern High School and 2005 Salisbury University graduate, has spent the previous 12 years as an assistant coach at Huntingtown High School and Calvert high schools. Prior to accepting the Stone job where he will succeed Paul Friel, who resigned after the 2015 season and has since accepted the same position at Southern in Anne Arundel County, Ripple admitted he gained valuable experience at the two other Southern Maryland Athletic Conference schools.
“I had the chance to learn under Jerry Franks and Kevin Gilligan at Huntingtown and then from Ricky [Sneade] at Calvert,” said Ripple, who grew up in Upper Marlboro in Prince George’s County. “Coach Franks, coach Gilligan and coach Sneade were great mentors. I learned something from each of them. Now I’m hoping to be able to take what I learned and begin as a head coach.”
Ripple inherits a program that is in much better condition than when Friel took over the Cougars. Last season Stone finished the league schedule 8-2 then was bumped from the Class 2A South Region playoffs by Gwynn Park in the opening round, 18-7. One year earlier, they won the 3A South Region and reached the state semifinals, only to be upended by eventual champion Franklin of Baltimore County, 30-0.
“I think this is a great opportunity for Danny Ripple to start his coaching career,” said Stone athletic director Brad
Criss, a former Calvert athletic director before going to Stone. “First of all, I can’t say enough about the job that coach Friel did during his tenure here. He took a program that was really struggling and turned it around. At one time we had three straight losing seasons before he arrived and then he took us to the playoffs the last two years.”
Ripple praised Criss and Friel for their support. He was grateful to Criss for hiring him and also appreciative of the effort that Friel put into rebuilding the program and he hardly left the cupboard bare for his successor. Now it will be up to Ripple to continue the Cougars’ newfound winning ways that Friel established. Ripple, currently a special education and Biology teacher at Calvert, will also have the same job at Stone this fall.
“Coach Friel did a great job turning the program around,” Ripple said. “He was able to get the entire school and the entire community to buy into what he was doing and it worked. Having faced his teams the last few years while I was an assistant at Calvert gave me an appreciation for what he did for this program. I’m grateful that Brad and the administration has given me this chance.”
Stone thumped Calvert 28-7 on Oct. 23 and then handed eventual 2A state champion Patuxent a 24-14 setback. Now at the helm of Stone, Ripple will have the chance to face both of his former teams later this fall with the Cougars game at Calvert landing on his birthday and also serving as the Cavaliers’ homecoming.
“Having been on the coaching staffs at Huntingtown and Calvert, I know how tough the 2A South Region has gotten,” Ripple said. “It’s probably going to be just as tough this year. I’ve already met with some of the players we have back and they’re excited about next season. I’m putting together my coaching staff over the next two weeks and some of the current coaches have expressed an interest in staying on with me and I’m glad to have them.”