Home Team Friday: Off the Grill (01/10/21)

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – It’s been nearly two decades since Ralph Weinzapfel last stepped on the sidelines for the Memorial Tigers, but his namesake lives on.

The legendary Memorial coach spent 34 years coaching the Tigers, 19 of them as head coach. He led the team from 1980 to 1999. Although he has retired from the game now, there is still a Weinzapfel that impacts the game.

Drew Weinzapfel is the son of former Bosse head coach Andrew Weinzapfel and the grandson of Ralph.

“I hear every teacher here and every coach talking about Ralph Weinzapfel,” Drew said.

It’s a football pedigree in the Weinzapfel family, and Drew is next. He is a starting lineman for the Tigers and represents the family name well. Still, Memorial’s coaching staff had high hopes for Drew from the start.

Ralph helped convince current Memorial head coach John Hurley to join the football team when he was in high school. After coaching him, Hurley joined Ralph’s coaching staff in the 90s.

“Drew came in with pretty high expectations when he came here, in terms of the type of player he was,” Hurley said. “But he was up to it all the way. He is hard, intractable; he has a good football spirit. He’s a good teammate. You couldn’t ask for more than that for what you get from Drew. It’s something we anticipated knowing the legacy he brought.

Even though Ralph is retired from the game, he is still Memorial’s greatest cheerleader. The 84-year-old never misses a game for his former side, spending his Friday nights supporting Drew from the stands.

“He always talks to me after games and just talks about what he likes, what he likes to see,” Drew said. “You always make him laugh in the stands whenever something good happens. He loves watching it.

“All I ask of him is to do his best,” Ralph said. “And that’s a simple word, you know.”

Years ago, it was Ralph doing his best at Memorial. He won six municipal championships, seven section titles and five regional titles during his career.

Now Drew is carrying on the tradition. As a freshman, he helped Memorial win a state championship in 2019.

“I’m very proud of him, especially when he has a good ball game,” Ralph said. “He gives him a pretty good effort.”

A member of the Indiana Football Memorial and Hall of Fame, Ralph Weinzapfel was a cornerstone of the Tigers program. And even though the legendary head coach has stepped down, his grandson is working hard to carry on his legacy.

“I’m proud of him, yes. I really want to make him proud and make that name part of Memorial.

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