ELM GROVE - Are you ready for some football?
The pairings for the fourth annual McDonald's OVAC Kickoff Weekend were announced Wednesday morning in the conference room atop the McDonald's restaurant.
This year's event will once again be played at two sites on Thursday, Aug. 29, with Kettlewell Memorial Stadium in Wintersville replacing Steubenville's Harding Stadium. Wheeling Island Stadium is the other venue.
BEALLSVILLE football coach Paul Kanzigg speaks during a press conference Wednesday morning as the matchups for the McDonald’s OVAC?Kickoff Weekend were released. The Blue Devils will play Weirton Madonna.
"What a better way to celebrate the official start of the football season," James Companion, of Scholastic Sports Marketing, said. "The crowds and fan enthusiasm have exceeded our expectations these first three years. It will be exciting to see how things go at our new Indian Creek site, and having both Weirton schools on that same ticket.
"Our primary objectives remain the same, and that's to raise money for the OVAC and member schools, the Ronald McDonald House and provide a positive experience for the youth of our community," he added.
The first game on the natural grass surface in Wintersville will have the host Redskins entertaining long-time rival Weir at 5:30 p.m. These two schools have played each other on a yearly basis since the Ohio school's consolidation in the early 1990s.
Immediately following that contest will be Beallsville and Weirton Madonna in a battle of Class A programs. The Blue Dons have been a perennial power in West Virginia, while the Blue Devils will be in a re-building mode. This game has an approximate kickoff set for 7:50.
"The first question people asked me when we found out we were playing in Wintersville was 'Where is Indian Creek?'" Beallsville head coach Paul Kanzigg joked. "Being from Beallsville, we don't even know how to get there."
Also on Thursday on the artificial turf at Wheeling Island Stadium, small school rivals Bishop Donahue and Cameron will hook up for bragging rights in Marshall County in a 5 p.m. kickoff.
The Bishops and Dragons will be meeting for the second consecutive year on Kickoff Weekend.
Completing the doubleheader on the Island is another re-match between a pair of Central's - Harrison and Wheeling.
"It's an honor to play in this Kickoff Weekend," Harrison Central head coach Justin Kropka said. "We played Wheeling Central here last year and it was a great game."
Finishing things up on Friday night is a clash between W.Va. big school powerhouses Wheeling Park and Keyser. Both teams reportedly have a lot of talent coming back and could potentially end their seasons back on the Island at the Super Six Championships.
"We're confident that this year's schedule will be a lot of fun for football fans in the Ohio Valley," Tim McCoy, WTOV vice president and general manager, explained. "We are extremely proud to showcase 10 great high school football programs and the student-athletes who excel, not only on the gridiron, but in the classroom, too."
Thursday's four games will be broadcast tape-delayed on WTOV9. WKKX 1600 AM will carry all five games on the radio and will also audio stream on wkkx.com.
Tickets are just $10 for each doubleheader Thursday, with Friday's admission being $7. Each participating school will sell tickets. The fan enhancement plans will be released at a later date.
Besides McDonald's as the title sponsor and WTOV9 as the presenting sponsor, Wheeling Hospital, Shirts N' More, Premier Bank & Trust, Paree Insurance Centers, West Liberty University, Belmont College and the U.S. Army are also on board as fiscal sponsors. Lamar Outdoor Advertising, The Times Leader and The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register are media sponsors.
North can be reached at email@example.com