WHEELING - After months of plotting, planning and preparing, its time for West Virginia and Ohio to get down to business.
The Buckeyes will look to make it two straight victories against the Mountaineers tonight at the 68th annual Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Football Charity Classic.
Kickoff is set for 7:15 p.m. at Wheeling Island Stadium.
University’s Deion Cunningham (88) and Brooke’s Raleigh Mason (20) enjoy a lighthearted moment during Media Day activities. West Virginia meets Ohio tonight at 7:15 p.m. at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Photo by Rick Thorp
The unofficial start to the 2013 season begins with some of the best seniors from 2012 campaign donning their prep regalia for the final time. And, according to the coaches, everyone is eager to go out a winner.
''We'll play to win the game,'' Wheeling Central coach Mike Young said Saturday morning after his West Virginia squad finished one final walkthrough at Bison Stadium.
''We'll play to the best of our ability. The players are ready and we feel good about our gameplan and we feel good about what the players are able to do.''
The Mountaineers are looking to exact a bit of revenge. Ohio bulled its way to a 33-14 triumph a year ago behind 266 combined rushing yards from Buckeye Local's Josten Dear and Cambridge's Dashaun Lewis.
Ohio's dominance up front was a deciding factor last year and Young believes line play could again decide the outcome.
''Usually the difference in the game is in the trenches,'' he said. ''Both sides have pretty good balance in the skill positions - quarterbacks, running backs, receivers. And the defensive backs are pretty good on both sides.''
West Virginia spent most of its final practice putting the finishing touches on its gameplan and fine-tuning special teams, etc.
The Mountaineers have four players on their roster who can throw the ball - South's Tyler Bolen, Magnolia's Tanner Hanna, John Marshall's Jeremiah Fromhart and Tyler Consolidated's Hunter LeMasters.
Young is confident with those, as well as the rest of his players' abilities, to make plays, citing their respective careers of success.
''You can't measure attitudes on paper,'' he said. ''And to be able to finally see these kids in person and see how they respond when you challenge them is great.''
Like Young, Ohio coach Mark Holenka is happy to be working with some of the talent he had to coach against the past three or four years. And while he's only spent a week with them, Holenka has seen progress on and off the field.
''What I've seen is what I expected from from this group,'' the Shadyside head coach said prior to the team's final workout Saturday morning. ''I would also say we've had some pleasant surprises.''
With only a week with his players, Holenka said he and his staff tried to keep the gameplan simple, yet effective.
''You might use a few trick plays, but you have to keep things pretty basic on both sides,'' he said. ''Otherwise it can get too confusing. You have to be careful.''
Quarterbacks on the Ohio roster include St. Clairsville's Matt Kinnick, Shadyside's Chase Kinemond and Beallsville's Teryn Jarrett.
The Buckeyes used their final practice session to make sure all details were in place for tonight.
''It's nice to see how, as time went by, everything came together,'' Holenka said. ''Instead of seeing the Shadyside kids walk with the Shadyside kids and the St. Clairsville kids walk with the Shadyside kids, for example, now you see kids from one school walking with kids from different schools.
''It's neat to see.''