Cole Smelley is carrying on a family tradition.
When the 67th annual Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Football Classic kicks off Sunday night at Wheeling Island Stadium, the Bridgeport graduate will be the fourth in his family to participate in the late-summer extravaganza.
The 6-1, 190-pounder follows in the footsteps of older brothers Ty Platt (2003), and Chris and Curt Smelley (2011).
PICTURED ARE the wide receivers and kicker for Team Ohio in this Sunday’s 67th annual Rudy Mumley OVAC?All-Star Charity Football Classic at Wheeling Island Stadium. Front row, from left, are Seth Rutledge (Conotton Valley), Jordan Piergallini (Buckeye Local), Zane Ayouch (Union Local), Chase Garan (St. Clairsville) and Brannt Pieniazek (Steubenville Central). Back row, from left, are Richie Padyjasek (Martins Ferry), Kyle Minger (Edison), Juwan Whetstone (Bellaire), Marky Thompkins (East Liverpool), Cory Kotopka (St. Clairsville) and Tyler Fitzpatrick (Barnesville). Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com.
"It's just amazing," Cole said during the recent media day at Bethany College. "I'm glad that I could keep the legacy going, and be a part of it.
"It's a big accomplishment to get picked, and I'm looking forward to playing with all these amazing athletes."
The first-team All-Ohio Division IV defensive back for Rudy Vavrock's Bulldogs plans to enroll at Ohio University Eastern for a year before attempting to walk-on at West Virginia University, once again following in the footsteps of Chris and Curt who successfully walked on last spring.
With only one scholastic game remaining in his stellar career, Cole said he will always cherish the memories of playing at Bridgeport.
"I had a great time, but I will always remember my junior year when we went 10-0 and playing with my brothers," he recalled. "That was a great experience."
When Sunday's game begins, Smelley could fine himself playing on both sides of the pigskin. He is one of only two quarterbacks on the Buckeye State roster, along with Indian Creek's David Kemp, and is also listed as a free safety.
"Wherever they want me to play, I'll do it," he said. "All I want to do is win this game."
Smelley was a 4-year letterwinner for the Bulldogs. He started every game of his career, with the exception of one his senior season when an ankle injury sidelined him. He made three trips to the post-season, including an impressive run to the regional finals during that 2010 season.
ANOTHER Eastern Ohio standout will suit up for Sunday's contest. However, he will be donning the dark blue jersey of West Virginia instead of the Ohio red.
Gino Bianconi grew up within walking distance of Bill Jobko Stadium in Brookside, but went to Wheeling Central where he helped the Maroon Knights win a Class A state championship in his final campaign.
"I've got friends on both sides," he said. "It's interesting, but exciting at the same time.
"I just hope that everyone plays well ... to their full expectations ... and has a good time, win or lose."
The 5-10, 180 pounder had a game no one will soon forget last December with a state championship game-record 355 yards and 5-TD performance. All told, he ran for 2,139 yards and 31 touchdowns.
Bianconi was named first-team all-state, all-OVAC and all-valley. He was MVP of the Super Six.
Tickets for Sunday's game can be purchased at all Ohio Valley Kroger stores. Advance tickets are $7, while all tickets at the gate will be $10. In addition, tickets can be purchased at DeFelice Brothers Pizza in Shadyside, Smitty's Floors in Steubenville and Weber's Drug Store in Woodsfield.
Children under 5 years of age will be admitted free of charge.
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