Home Team Friday: Off the Gridiron (10/1/21)

Home Team Friday

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

The legendary Memorial coach spent 34 years coaching the Tigers, 19 as a head coach. He led the team from 1980 through 1999. While he’s retired from the game now, there’s still a Weinzapfel making an impact on the game. 

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

“I hear from all the teachers here and all the coaches about Ralph Weinzapfel,” Drew said.

It’s a football pedigree in the Weinzapfel family, and Drew is next in line. He’s a starting lineman for the Tigers, and representing the family name well. Still, the Memorial 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 went on to join Ralph’s coaching staff in the 90s.

“Drew came in with some pretty heavy expectations when he got here, as far as what kind of player he was,” Hurley said. “But he’s lived up to it all the way through. He’s tough, hard-nosed; he’s got a good football mind. He’s a good teammate. You couldn’t ask for more than that for what you get from Drew. That’s something we anticipated knowing the heritage he was bringing.”

Even though Ralph is retired from the game, he’s still Memorial’s biggest cheerleader. The 84-year-old doesn’t miss a game from his former team, spending his Friday nights supporting Drew from the stands. 

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

“All I ask him to do 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 city championships, seven sectional 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 back in 2019. 

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

A member of the Memorial and Indiana Football Hall of Fame, Ralph Weinzapfel was one of the cornerstones of the Tigers program. And even though the legendary head coach has stepped away, his grandson is striving to keep his legacy alive.

“I take pride in it, yeah. I really want to make him proud, and kind of keep that name part of Memorial.”

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