You hear all the time about the kids in the Ohio Valley growing up just dying to play in the Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Charity Classic.
Almost in the same breath, you hear that some of the kids outside of the immediate area that surrounds Wheeling just don't get as excited or into it as others.
As the OVAC has expanded over the course of the last few years, more and more kids from the likes of Morgantown, Parkersburg South and University have been afforded the opportunity to take part in the annual summer sporting spectacle.
T-L Photo/MIKE PALMER
PICTURED IS the West Virginia squad for tonight’s 68th annual Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Charity Football Classic. Front row, from left, are head coach Mike Young, Braxton Johnson (Parkersburg South), Tyler Bolen (Parkersburg South), Blaine Stewart (Morgantown), Stephen Rogalski (Magnolia) and Jordan Bonar (Bishop Donahue). Second row, from left, are Tanner Hanna (Magnolia), Logan Cox (Parkersburg South), Chris Varner (Hundred), Michael Pleva (Wheeling Central), Evan Magers (John Marshall), Jeremiah Fromhart (John Marshall) and Raleigh Mason (Brooke). Third row, from left, are Tim Kocher (University), Hunter LeMasters (Tyler Consolidated), Alex Weidman (Morgantown), Daren Baldwin (Weir), Chinelo Oparanozie (Linsly), Jalen Thomas (Morgantown), Andrew Wheeler (Wheeling Park) and Jonathan Lewis (University). Fourth row, from left, are Jake Fieler (Parkersburg South), Nick Naumann (Wheeling Central), Ben Rodgers (Brooke), Chance Siebieda (Wheeling Central), Tanner Yoho (Wheeling Park) and Austin Martin (Cameron). Fifth row, from left, are manager Derek Yocke, Markeith O’Neal (Wheeling Park), Preston Murray (Oak Glen), Spencer Mason (Valley), Alex Doak (Tyler Consolidated), Deion Cunningham (University) and manager Parker Henry. Sixth row, from left, are trainer Jason Coleman, assistant coaches Jim Wolfe, Jamie Bordas, Shannon Kuchinski, Eddie Anderson, DeVaughn Gordon and Jason Rine.
This year, two of the Mohigans picked actually did grow up knowing of the OVAC game, but as they were kids never dreamed they'd have the chance to play, but then when the school joined the OVAC, their minds were made up.
Alex Weidman's entire family is from the Wheeling area and Blaine Stewart's late father, Bill, grew up in New Martinsville.
"This definitely means a lot to me to play in this game," Stewart said. "I think this only our third year to have guys in the game, but it's always been something I wanted to do. I've been to it a few times to watch and it's just a great event. I am thankful for the chance to get out in front of the Ohio Valley fans who've always treated me and my family well."
Stewart was voted a captain for West Virginia earlier in the week by his teammates.
"I've just tried to be a leader and set an example in everything I've done," Stewart said. "The valley truly is my family's home, so to have the chance to come up here and represent Morgantown High, West Virginia and my family is just an honor."
Once the rosters were announced, Stewart and Weidman both became kind of like a sounding board for others to explain just what the OVAC Game is all about.
"Since we're so new to the conference, a lot of our fans and kids don't know the importance of this game," Stewart said. "I told the guys it's a great experience that we'll remember forever. We're thrilled to be here."
HEALTHY AND READY
Magnolia's Stephen Rogalski was one of the area's most explosive wide receivers last season for the Blue Eagles. He was also expected to be one of the top track and field competitors in the spring, but he battled a naggy hamstring injury, which sidelined him for much of the spring.
However, as he prepares to head off to West Virginia Wesleyan University in a few weeks, Rogalski reported to OVAC camp healthy and ready to go.
"Track season was a nightmare, but I did a lot of rehab and I'm 100 percent now," Rogalski said. "I'm running pretty well."
NEW HAIR DOS
It seems each year during OVAC camp, a few of the players get a wild in terms of their hair cuts during the week leading up to the game.
Three Ohio players had taken the plunge and shaven their heads into a fresh mohawk as they prepare for tonight's clash with West Virginia.
St. Clairsville's Luke Smith, River's Nick Asturi and Martins Ferry's Sean McGee will all be heading tonight after the game anxious to show off their new look.
According to Asturi, Steubenville's Matt Petrella brought the shears that were used.
McGee's hair is actually a spiked mohawk, so he wins the style of the week.
"I guess it's pretty traditional and they're just having fun, but I sure their moms aren't thinking, 'that idiot coach allowed this to happen,'" Holenka said. "I guess I allowed it, but I didn't condone it."
COACHING STAFF FAMILIARITY
Coming into camp, the aforementioned Smith might have gotten a heads up on what to expect somewhat from the Shadyside coaching staff. Luke's dad, John, is a Shadyside High School graduate and played for Ohio offensive assistant coach Ty Fleming during his prep days.
MEN IN STRIPES
The officiating crew for tonight's game includes: referee Rusty Vermillion, umpire Robert Ramsey, linesman Tom Bechtel, line judge Larry McCloy, field judge Mike Ridgway, side judge Joe McFarland and backjudge T.J. Brancazio.
The honorary official for the game will be Don Zinni, who is the former OVAC Football Commissioner.
REAL REASON FOR PLAYING
People always seem to wonder what the proceeds of the Mumley Classic benefit. In 41 years, the game has donated more $870,000 to charity organizations and scholarships throughout the Ohio Valley.
HAVE A SMARTPHONE?
If so, you can become involved in tonight's game. Fans will be able to upload pictures and check in at the stadium through the OVAC's Facebook page. They'll also be able to vote on the game's most valuable player through that social media.