MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Organizers of the annual North-South football game are pushing forward with plans for this year’s all-star classic June 13 at South Charleston High School’s Black Eagle Stadium. The COVID-19 pandemic has halted sports throughout the state but game director Bob Mullett is optimistic the game will be played as scheduled if schools eventually reopen in May.
“The kids need something to look forward to,” Mullett said. “The parents get excited about this game. We have a great staff of coaches. We need something to rebound with economically and socially.
“We won’t do anything that we think will bring any harm to anyone. We can’t go to camp without the whole thing being cleared. We are holding out a lot of hope that this thing will happen. But I am really positive. We can pull it off.”
Mullett added that he and his staff are looking at contingency plans to delay the game to June 20 if needed. A decision about moving the date could be made in the first week of May.
“Everybody is holding out hope for these seniors’ sake that they can get some closure,” said North head coach Daran Hays. “A lot of their other plans this year have been messed with.”
“I am praying we can get through this crisis we are going through right now so the kids can enjoy themselves,” said South head coach Ray Lee. “Not just for this football game but for all of the seniors that are missing out on so much.”
Veteran North Marion head coach Daran Hays will guide the North. He will be assisted by fellow Husky coaches Steven Harbert and Gary Lanham. Parkersburg South frontman Nathan Tanner and new Martinsburg head coach Britt Sherman complete the staff.
“I always wanted to play in the game,” Hays said. “I was an alternate and didn’t get the opportunity. But I was an assistant coach a couple years ago. It is kind of a bucket lister for me. Coach (Gerry) White got to do it while he was at North Marion and Coach (Roy) Michael did it when he was at North. It is one thing I can continue. It is quite an honor.”
Hays will coach two of his players in the game. They are quarterback Gunner Murphy and linebacker Trent Hlusko.
The North Bears feature J.R. House Award winner (state’s top quarterback) Brandon Penn (Parkersburg South), MetroNews Player of the Year from Martinsburg Jarod Bowie, 2018 Curt Warner Award winner (state’s top running back) Hunter America (Doddridge County) and 2018 Randy Moss Award winner (state’s top receiver) Malakai Brown.
“I am really excited about our roster,” Hays said. “I think we are pretty loaded. We have a really good array of talent all the way through.”
The South Cardinals will be led by Greenbrier East head coach Ray Lee. He has welcomed Spartan assistants Aaron Baker and Jake Harper to the staff. Riverside’s Alex Daugherty and Liberty Raleigh’s Mark Workman round out the South staff.
Notable players for the South include 2019 Randy Moss Award winner Drew Hatfield (Mingo Central) and fellow Glenville State commits Liam Fultineer (Mount View) and Logan Spurlock (Capital).
Lee will coach three of his graduating players in the game. Running back/defensive lineman Marion Lawson, receiver/defensive back Kyle King and linebacker Houston Scott will all represent the Spartans.
“Those are some great guys,” Lee said. “They were the leaders on our football team. They are just excellent young men. To coach them one more time is an honor for me.”
Players from both teams are housed at West Virginia State University for a full week of training camp prior to the game. Teams also participate has various social events throughout the week.
“You don’t want to go system overload and give them too much,” Hays said. That is probably the key to this game is finding the healthy balance of how much do you do before it is too much. You definitely don’t want to go in there underprepared.”
“We are going to make it fun,” Lee said. “At the same time, we are going to make sure that we are accomplishing things. I am a keep-it-simple kind of guy. I don’t want to overload them with information because once you start thinking, it takes away your aggressiveness.”
Hays and Lee led their respective teams to the playoffs last fall, finishing with 7-4 records.
A mainstay at Laidley Field and University of Charleston Stadium for several decades, the game moved to South Charleston High School in 2018.
“The South Charleston CVB gives us support financially, the mayor’s office does too and several businesses have stepped up,” Mullet said. “We have a parade now. We have a nice banquet at Little Creek Country Club and we have a reception at the Holiday Inn in South Charleston. They are excited about having us and they backed us financially.”
North Bears All-Star roster:
Brandon Penn – Parkersburg South, QB/DB
Malachi Brown – Martinsburg, WR/DB
Jarod Bowie – Martinsburg, RB/WR/DB
Jared Grifftih – Lewis County, K
Dawson Tingler – Petersburg, TE/DE
Corbin Pierson – Jefferson, QB
Nic Kuhn – Lewis County, WR/DB
Elijah Gillette – Weir, WR/DB
Xavier Morris – Wheeling Park, WR/DB
Jeff Tucker – Parkersburg South, H/DE
Devin Heath – Hedgesville, WR/DB
Gunner Murphy – North Marion, QB
Dylan Day – Parkersburg South, WR/DB
Landon McFadden – So. Harrison, UT/DB
Michael Lemley – Oak Glen, WR/DB
Trent Hlusko – North Marion, LB
Brennen Seacrist – Madonna, WR/DB
Jeb Boice – Parkersburg Catholic, RB/LB
Hunter America – Doddridge, RB/DB
Max Camilletti – Brooke, RB/DB
Zach Taylor – Oak Glen, WR/LB
Logan Raber – University, RB/LB
Dom Postlewait – East Fairmont, WR/DB
Seth McIntire – Liberty-Harrison, RB/LB
Jalen Brunny – Park. Catholic, H/DE
Nate Kowalski – Fairmont Senior, OL/DE
Jack Saines – Wheeling Park, OL
Don Woodworth – Keyser, OL/DL
Dom Owens – Fairmont Senior, OL/DL
Jackson Biser – Keyser, TE/LB
Ty Lucas – Martinsburg, OL/DL
Lance Payton – Fairmont Senior, OL
Brock Robey- Robert C. Byrd, OL
Corey Shaffer – Jefferson, OL/DL
Cole James – Doddridge, OL/DL
Michael Watkins – Bridgeport, OL/DL
South Cardinals All-Star roster:
Chase Berry – Chapmanville, QB
Gunner Harmon – Wayne, QB
Ethan Varney – Tug Valley, QB/DB
Monroe Mohler – James Monroe, QB/DB
Liam Fultineer – Mt. View, OL
Tanner Jenkins – Wyoming East, OL
Ian McKinney- Shady Spring, OL
Hunter McMicken – Van, OL
Ian Pomeroy – Beckley, OL
Caden Easterling – Riverside, RB
Cameron Foster – Nitro, RB
Marion Lawson – Greenbrier East, RB/DL
Xander Castillo – James Monroe, WR/DB
Drew Hatfield – Mingo Central, WR
Kyle King – Greenbrier East, WR/DB
Alex Mazelon – George Washington, WR
Quentin Moody – ManWR/DB
Matt Stone – Poca, TE/DE
Logan Vance – Clay, WR
Bomani Brooks – Hurricane, DL
Marcell Guy – Independence, OL/DL
Cameron Lovejoy – Buffalo, DL
Andrew Preast – G. Washington, OL/DL
Stone Sartin – Tolsia, DL
Jacob Anthony – Ravenswood, LB
Ben Kee – Herbert Hoover, LB
Houston Scott – Greenbrier East, LB
Gavin Shamblin – Sissonville, FB/LB
Logan Spurlock – Capital, LB
Austin Stephenson – Riverside, LB
Tay Calloway – Capital, RB/DB
Haven Chapman – Shady Spring, DB
Zach Frye – Man, DB
Hayden Hass – Cabell Midland, DB
Isaiah Osborne – Riverside, DB
Erick Bevil – Shady Spring, K/P