NEWTOWN — The Hatfield-McCoy Senior Bowl is here to stay.
Here at Mingo Central High School’s James H. Buck Harless Stadium.
The stands were packed on Saturday night to see the annual clash between the West Virginia and Kentucky all-star teams.
West Virginia won 37-12 in the first ever Senior Bowl to be played at the new field turfed Harless Stadium. The game had been played the first 16 years at the old Matewan High School field from 1996-2011.
Harless Stadium received rave reviews from just about everyone who saw the facility for the first time.
Plenty of parking.
Easy in, easy out.
Nice locker room.
Good sound system.
A first-class facility.
Fans to the game also enjoyed the coolish, almost September-like temperatures.
Since the adjacent high school and field are so high in elevation it is often five to eight degrees cooler “up on the mountain.” The game time temperature was 80 degrees but it fell into the low 70s by the end of the game. A strong, cool breeze made it feel even more comfortable. It was like “natural air conditioning.”
“I hope that everyone enjoyed it as much as we do,” West Virginia All-Stars’ head coach Joey Fields said. “These kids enjoyed it. Non-stop they kept telling me, ‘Coach, thanks. Coming here is like going to Laidley Field.’ It’s a great, great atmosphere.”
There was a moment of silence before the game to honor Mingo Central assistant coach John Fry, who passed away in June at the age of 27. He had coached in the Hatfield-McCoy Bowl four times, leading West Virginia to a 2-0 record as the head coach. His other two stints were as an assistant and West Virginia won those two games as well.
It was a well-played and clean game with only one minor pushing incident between Kentucky and West Virginia players. The game has been marred in the past by fights. Several years ago, the game was stopped with about three minutes to go after an on-field altercation.
“I talked to the players a lot about Coach Fry and I would say, ‘Play like Coach Fry would want you to play,’” Fields said. “I said, ‘Play with heart, play non-stop and play 100 percent on every play. But most of all, play with class.’ We knew that we would be successful if we did that. Keeping it clean was important. This game will continue.”
West Virginia was led by Logan product Joe Street, who scored four of the six WV touchdowns.
Seven linemen hailed from either Logan or Chapmanville and played a big role in the victory. A pair of players from Man High School also took part in the game.
“One of the first things was that we had to get an offensive line. Tonight, our offensive line was tough,” Fields said. “The team that has the best offensive line usually wins. This game is about running the ball. It’s hard to put in a spread offfense in a week. If you run the ball and keep it out of their hands you will be successful.”
The West Virginia All-Stars lead the all-time Senior Bowl Series 11-6.
Kentucky had won last year’s game, 30-14, in the last Hatfield-McCoy Bowl to be played at Matewan. The victory had broken West Virginia’s seven-game winning streak.
Saturday night’s Senior Bowl was sponsored by Cliffs Natural Resourses.