BETHANY - For nearly four hours a day for the past week, the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Football All-Stars have been working toward Sunday's 67th annual game.
While 32 of the players are working to learn all of the schemes involved for the respective teams, there's two guys in camp who've been working basically by themselves.
"Whenever we're on the field practicing as a team, I am practicing my kicking and punting, too," Ohio kicker Richie Padyjasek said during media day earlier this week.
PICTURED ARE the linemen for the Ohio squad in the 67th annual Rudy Mumley OVAC?All-Star Charity Football Classic. Kneeling, from left, are Michael Camilletti (Steubenville), Mike Dalto (Bridgeport), Greg Ring (Buckeye Local) and William Houst (Steubenville). Standing, from left, are Bryan Sawyer (Caldwell), C.J. Wise (Monroe Central), Matt Shurina (Harrison Central), Elliott Albert (Martins Ferry), Anthony Kuhn (St. Clairsville) and Matt Hammond (Shadyside).
However, don't think for a minute that their jobs are any less important.
The Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Charity Football Classic allows the head coaches to select 32 position players and one kicker.
When choosing their rosters, the head coaches often times spend as much time choosing their kicker as they do their quarterback.
It seems as if Padyjasek - the Martins Ferry High product - was a no-brain selection after the last couple of seasons he put forth for Coach Dave Bruney's squad.
At Martins Ferry last season, Padyjasek recorded 24 touchbacks, connected on 36 point-after kicks and punted at a 38.2-yard clip.
Not bad for a kid who only picked up kicking a football four years prior.
"I just started kicking the ball one day in the eighth grade and then as a sophomore, I got the chance to kick in a varsity game," Padyjasek recalled. "I really don't know what made me try it, it just jumped into my head one day, but I had played soccer in St. Clairsville for six years in recreation league, so that helped, too."
During his senior season, Padyjasek also saw some time at wide receiver and defensive back, so the opportunity to strictly kick and work on his kicking has been a relatively new occurence.
"I am able to get more focused on each kick because I've not been running in and out of the game," Padyjasek said.
Padyjasek, who will run track at Seton Hill University, didn't have any second thought about accepting the invitation to handle the Buckeye State's special teams duties.
"I've been coming to this game probably since I was in eighth grade and every year, I'd hoped to, one day, be down on that field taking part in this," Padyjasek said. "Now, I am getting to live it out and it's really exciting."
This summer, Padyjasek worked "here and there" on his kicking to "keep loose" as he was coming off a track season in which he finished fourth in the Division II 110M high hurdle state final with a time of 14.76.
Padyjasek feels comfortable that if the Buckeye offense can get the ball to the 30 yard line, Ohio will come out with some points.
"I feel pretty comfortable from 35 or 40 yards out," Padyjasek said.
Making any high school team - all star or not - drive 80 or so yards is a luxury and Padyjasek hopes he's got a few touchbacks in him to give West Virginia a longer field to deal with Sunday.
"I am probably right at the goal line," Padyjasek said.
"And I am averaging 45 yards on a punt right now."
Padyjasek would love to be on the field for a try at a game-winning field goal come Sunday evening, but if it doesn't happen?
"I just hope we come out on top," Padyjasek said. "I see everything whether it be a field goal try, a key extra point or maybe we have to recover an on-side kick."
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