Changes on the gridiron

Rip­ple named new foot­ball coach at Thomas Stone

Maryland Independent - - Sports B - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­

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.”


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