It's not often that news from the Ohio Valley makes its way to national headlines.
Unless - of course - it's something negative about job loss, steel mills or something of that sort.
St. Clairsville High School and - more specifially - Red Devils Football is receiving all sorts of national headlines and it's not because of their 9-0 record.
A little more than two weeks ago, the Red Devils' football family was faced with a tragedy when freshman player Logan Thompson's father, Paul, passed away at the too young age of 44 from a stroke in their home.
Two days later, Thompson suited up despite the heavy heart. Wanting to do anything he could to ease the young man's pain, Red Devils' head coach Brett McLean and his coaching staff decided they were going to do all they could to get Thompson into the end zone for his first varsity touchdown.
In the second half, McLean told his primary offensive weapons that if they got a break away run toward the end zone to put the brakes on.
Junior Michael Ferns - the Michigan verbal - was the guy who got the late break away on a simple run play. He stepped out of bounds at the 1-yard line, which led to McLean calling on Thompson.
Thompson, who is listed as a receiver, was told he was going to get the ball and just follow Ferns. So, that's what he did and since then, the story has simply taken off.
"First of all, I never dreamt this would leave Richmond or the realm of our team," McLean said. "I guess people are touched by the story, but, in all honesty, our goal was never to get any attention for our team. Our desire was to help console a kid who's grieving and try our best to help his heartache."
The story really gained steam when a pictureof Ferns and Thompson embracing, which was taken by St. C. resident Jeff Stewart, was posted on Facebook.
"It's just crazy how that's taken off," Ferns said. "It was just posted for the community to enjoy or whatever and it's become a national story. It's really amazing. My phone has been blowing up about the picture, but it wasn't done for any sort of publicity. All we wanted to do was to help Logan and his family out the best we could."
After hundreds of likes and shares, the news was spreading quickly.
"Every time I see that picture it makes me cry, but I am happy that it's portraying our family and St. Clairsville in a positive light," said Logan Thompson's mother, Daniele.
The story was originally picked up more nationally by a variety of media outlets that cover the University of Michigan football program since Ferns was involved.
Since then, it's spread to the USA Today, the front page of Yahoo.com, the Huffington Post, a nationally syndicated talk radio show, Elvis Duran and McLean has fielded phone calls from national television medias. The story was also the subject of Associated Press Sports Columnist Jim Litke's weekly column. His piece was picked up by outlets all over the country, including sportsillustrated.com.
"I can't tell you how overwhelmed we are with the support we've received for the entire Thompson family," McLean said. "Too many times you hear about the bad stories involving sports and athletes. This is just a story about unselfish kids who genuinely care about their teammate."
The story has also made its rounds in the Twitter world, drawing re-tweets from several celebrities, including Alyssa Milano.
McLean got a call early last week from executives with CBS Sports that wanted to dispatch a crew from NFL Today to St. Clairsville to do a story for its NFL pre-game show.
Calls from the Hallmark Channel and also the Ellen DeGeneres Show have also been fielded by McLean for prospective stories.
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org