NEWTOWN — Last year began a new football tradition in West Virginia with the East-West All-Star Classic.
With the end of the annual Hatfield-McCoy Senior Bowl, which ran from 1996-2013, a new all-star game was born.
The East-West pits some of the top graduated senior football players from southern West Virginia against each other for one last game.
For some of the players it’s the last time they will ever suit up for a football game.
Last year’s inaugural game was a success as the West beat the East 35-0 at Mingo Central High School’s Buck Harless Stadium in the first ever clash.
Game No. 2 is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 1 at Mingo Central.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Practices for the game are scheduled to begin on Monday.
Football players from Logan, Chapmanville and Man were on the same West team last year and had always played together dating back to the old Senior Bowl days.
This year, however, Logan and Chapmanville players will play for the West and the players from Man High School will be on the East squad.
Neil Mullins, Gage Harvey, Caleb Adkins, Mikle Scott Rowe and Bryce Goff of Man will play for the East All-Stars.
Logan’s Zac Acord, Jeremiah Spears and Ryan Miller will play for the West, alongside Chapmanville Regional High School’s Michael Hall, Austin Kirk and Zac Casto.
The West All-Stars will don green and white jerseys, the colors of Marshall University, while the East All-Stars will wear the blue and gold of WVU.
West All-Star players are also coming from Capital, Wayne, Mingo Central, Sissonville, Tug Valley, Mingo Central, Ripley and Scott high schools.
The West will be coached by Joey Fields of Mingo Central.
The East All-Star team is comprised of players from Man, Westside, Wyoming East, Bluefield, Beckley, River View and Mount View.
Larry Cook is the head coach of the East.
Mingo Central coach Danny “Yogi” Kinder is the East-West Game Director.
West 35, East 0
NEWTOWN — It was no contest as the Gary Mullins-led West All-Stars shut out the East 35-0 in the inaugural East-West All-Star Classic last summer at Mingo Central’s Buck Harless Stadium.
The game was dubbed, “The Fog Bowl,” as two waves of thick fog rolled over top of the mountaintop stadium.
There were some good individual performances and hard hits but the game was also marred by a bench-clearing brawl just after halftime as tempers flared.
All in all, it was the West, led by Coach Mullins of Logan High School, which walked away victorious.
“It was some hard-nosed football,” Mullins said. “It was nice to be a part of this game with these great players. Anybody can coach these guys you just have to go out there with them and let them do all the work.”
The West was made up of 14 Logan County players, including nine from Logan, others from the southern Coalfields and 11 more from Kanawha Valley schools George Washington, Capital and St. Albans high schools.
Mullins said it was a joy to coach his Logan guys one more time.
“I am so blessed to be able to coach with our Logan guys one more time and to add with them all of these other guys. We had a great week of practice,” he said. “They all did a great job and I’m really proud of them. It was a great game.”
The West dominated the game statistically, outgaining the East 309-101 in total yards. The West ran the ball 39 times for 78 net yards, while the East had 32 carries for 95 yards.
But in the air, that’s where the West did its damage. GW’s Jon Alexander led the West as he was 12-for-18 passing for 218 yards and three touchdowns. Man High School’s Cayce Mullins was 1-for-2 passing for 13 yards.
James Richmond of Capital, the West’s Offensive MVP, had five catches for 112 yards and two TDs.
Richmond’s first score was on a 23-yard hook-and-ladder play from GW’s Austin Giacomo, who made the initial reception and then flipped to a streaking Richmond. The score came with 3:52 to go in the first quarter as the West led 7-0.
Later on, the West did it again.
On a first-and-long on its own 35-yard line, Richmond went for 27 more yards in the fog on another hook-and-ladder, or as Coach Mullins calls it, “The hook-and-lateral.”
“We always like the hook-and-lateral,” Mullins said. “(West Assistant) Coach (Josh) Fry actually wanted to start the game with it but we ended up running a couple. We ran it and they executed and then later on, we used it again with Richmond and Giacomo from GW who made a great catch and tossed it right to him. It was a good overall game.”
Two plays later, Alexander tossed a 37-yard TD into the fog to Mingo Central’s Alex Lee. Logan’s Josh Rein tossed to Lee on a faked PAT attempt for two points as the West led 15-0 with three second left until hafltime.
The West got the ball back on the ensuing second half kickoff as Scott’s Michael Belcher recovered a fumble.
Four plays later, Worm Street of Logan scored on an 18-yard touchdown. It was called back, however, by a West flag.
The West eventually got to the 1-yard line after a 24-yard pass from Alexander to Rein.
Then on third-and-goal from the 17, Richmond caught a 17-yard TD pass from Alexander with 6:53 left in the third. Logan’s Daniel Hanks booted the PAT and it was 22-0.
The West made it 29-0 with 4:55 to go in the third after James Walton of Capital scooped up a fumble and went 30 yards for a touchdown.
The West All-Stars then added one more score with 5:00 left as Street went in from 3 yards out to up the margin to 35-0. The PAT failed after a muffed sanp.
Street led the West’s ground game with 10 carries for 45 yards. Tyler Vernatter of Logan had four rushes for six yards. Richmond added 22 yards on four attempts. Belcher had two carries for three yards.
Cayce Mullins of Man had one carry for eight yards as he played quarterback late in the game.
Jonathan Pittman (Capital) had two carries for no yards. Adam Huffman (GW) had one rush for no yards. Matt Chapman of Chapmanville had one carry for three yards. Jaisson Dyer, a lineman from Capital, had one carry for six yards.
Rein finished with two pass receptions for 45 yards for the West.
Jones had two catches for 17 yards. Giacomo had two grabs for 19 yards. Street had one catch for 18 yards.
Walton, the West Defensive MVP, also had a sack for a 9-yard loss.
East quarterback T.J. Smith was only 2-for-14 passing for six yards.
The West was penalized 12 times for 105 yards. The East had six yellow hankies for 40 yards.
The East only reached the red zone once as it drove to the West’s 16-yard line in the third quarter. The sack by Walton, however, pushed it back to the 30 and the East turned the ball over on downs with an incomplete pass on a fourth-and-21 play.
The Offensive MVP’s were: the East’s Devin Allen of Princeton High School; and the West’s James Richmond.
The Defensive MVP’s were: the East’s Erik Lindsey of Summers County; and the West’s James Walton.
Four scholarship awards were also handed out to Worm Street, Jon Pittman of Capital High School, Brian Whitt of Wyoming East; and Brennan Wheeler of Bluefield High School.
Cliffs Natural Resources was the main sponsor of the game.
Abby Hensley of Chapmanville Regional High School was named at halftime as the first-ever East-West All-Star Classic Queen.
The East-West All-Star cheerleaders were represently locally by one Logan Countian, former Logan High School cheerleader Jessica Haga.
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 ext. 1730, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).