GRAFTON—According to Bob Mullett, organizer of the West Virginia North/South All-Star Football Classic, the plan is to move forward with the game, which pits the top high school football players from the northern part of the state against the top high school football players from the southern part of the state, although the date may change due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are holding out a lot of hope that this thing will happen,” said Mullett. “We won’t do anything that we think will bring any harm to anyone. But I am positive that we can pull it off. The kids need something to look forward to and the parents get excited about this game. We need something to rebound with economically and socially.”
The game was originally scheduled to take place on June 13th, but organizers have expressed that they are open to pushing the game back a week or two if that’s what needs to happen. A decision could be made around the time students are scheduled to go back to school, unless that plan gets delayed again as well.
Although there won’t be any Grafton Bearcats representing the North’s squad this season, many local coaches and players will be representing the stacked team.
Assuming the coaching duties for the North Bears will be North Marion head coach Daran Hays, who is entering his twelfth season at the school. He has guided the Huskies to two playoff appearances, in 2016 and 2019.
“Being just the third head football coach at North Marion and knowing that the previous two had this honor, it was always something I wanted to have the opportunity to do personally,” Hays stated on Thursday. “While I am honored to have been chosen, I really want this game to happen for the class of 2020. After all the things they have had taken from them this year, I believe it would bring great closure to the 72 players participating in this year’s game.”
Two of Hays’ players were selected to play in the game as well. Quarterback Gunner Murphy and linebacker Trent Hlusko will be a part of the North squad.
Hays will be assisted by North Marion coaches Steven Harbert and Gary Lanham, as well as Parkersburg South head coach Nathan Tanner and Martinsburg head coach Britt Sherman.
Greenbrier East head coach Ray Lee has been named the coach for the South Cardinals, and he will be assisted by fellow Spartan coaches Aaron Baker and Jake Harper, as well as Riverside’s Alex Daughtery and Liberty (Raleigh) coach Mark Workman.
“We are going to make it fun,” said Lee, who has coached at Greenbrier East for eight seasons. “At the same time, we are going to make sure we accomplish things. I don’t want to overload them with information because once you start thinking, it takes away your aggressiveness. I am a keep-it simple kind of guy.”
Both Hays and Lee finished last season with 7-4 records and fell in the first round of the playoffs in their respective classes.
The all-star game, which moved to South Charleston High School last season after years of being played at the University of Charleston Stadium (formerly Laidley Field), will feature some of the best players and notable award winners in the state (designated beside their name on the roster). It will be televised live on WCHS-TV with commentary from Mark Martin.