MADISON — The West All-Stars won’t be short on talent or short on skill position players when it takes to the field on Saturday night in the second-ever East-West All-Star Classic.
Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. at Mingo Central’s Buck Harless Stadium.
The West beat the East 35-0 in last year’s game.
This year’s contest expects to be much closer as the East-West map has been altered, sending the players from the Beckley area to the East.
Also, players from Man High School, which played for the West last year, will don the Blue and Gold of the East (West Virginia). The West will dress again in the Green and White of Marshall.
For West coach Joey Fields, this will be his third go-around as an all-star head coach. Fields, a Mingo Central assistant coach, led the West Virginia All-Stars twice in the old Hatfield-McCoy Senior Bowl, which ran from 1996-2013 before being discontinued.
Fields said he likes his West roster, which brings in players from the Charleston area and from tradition-rich Wayne, down to the southern Coalfields of Logan, Mingo and Boone counties.
“We’ve got a pretty good team this year,” Fields said. “I’m excited about it. This is the third all-star game that I’ve coached. We have a lot of good players and we’ve got a lot of North-South guys. We’ve got a lot of Charleston area guys from Capital, Sissonville and a player from Ripley. We’ve also got a lot of players from Wayne, Mingo Central, Scott, Logan and Chapmanville.”
Fields said many of the West players came from winning programs, such as Wayne.
“We’ve got a lot of players who have won a lot of games,” he said. “They know how to win and they will compete here these first couple of days at practice. We’re going to get ready for Saturday.”
Fields said there’s plenty of skilled position players on the West that can make things happen.
“I think that we’ve got a lot of skilled position guys,” he said. “Our D-line should be very very strong with the Capital guys and with Zach Holt and Johnathan Burke from Capital.”
The West will have two primary quarterbacks — Nate Adkins of Wayne and Ryan Miller of Logan.
Miller, who signed recently with the University of Charleston, was Logan’s record-breaking quarterback last year. He passed for a school-record 2,455 yards and completed 160-of-312 passes for 51.3 percent. Miller also tossed 24 touchdowns.
Adkins helped lead the Wayne Pioneers to an 11-3 season last year and wins over Fairmont (43-40) and Mingo Central (35-17) in the Class AA playoffs before a 48-7 semifinal loss at Bridgeport.
“Our quarterback is Nate Adkins from Wayne and also Logan’s quarterback, Ryan Miller, will be seeing some time,” Fields said. “Miller can throw the ball. With Nate, he can really run the Wing-T stuff at them with a lot of the trap schemes that we like to run.”
At running back, Mingo Central’s Chase Justice (1,056 rushing yards on 149 attempts in 2014), and Bo Jeffrey from Scott will likely get the bulk of the carries.
Logan’s Zac Acord, who caught 72 passes for 1,080 yards and 10 touchdowns last year, could see action in the backfield as well as wide receiver, Fields said. Acord is slated to walk on with the Marshall University football team this fall.
Tug Valley’s Austin Baisden is expected to see time at tight end. He reeled in 21 passes for 402 yards and scored five touchdowns for the Class A Final Four Panthers a year ago.
Chapmanville’s Zac Casto (30 catches, 388 yars, 3 TDs) and Tyler Shaffer of Sissonville give the West more targets to throw to. Chance Lester of Mingo Central is another option.
On the offensive line, Fields said Clay Ellis and Ethan Jones of Mingo Central will play center and tackle, respectively. Colin Kelly of Wayne, John McClure of Scott and Luke Hall of Ripley are also likely starters. Hall is the projected starter at right tackle.
On the defensive line, Zach Holt (Mingo Central), Johnathan Burke (Capital) and Kahil Chase (Capital) will more than likely start but Fields said the defensive end slots are wide open.
At linebacker, Fields said Jeremiah Spears (Logan) and Tucker Watts (Wayne) will see action. Last year, Spears had 48 total tackles, one pass break-up and one fumble recovery.
In the secondary, Shaffer, Chance Lester (Mingo Central), Rashad Cunningham (Capital) and Acord will see action.
Strong-legged Tyler Harrison of Mingo Central is the West’s kicker.
“He was a first-team all-state kicker for us,” Fields said of Harrison. “He’s as good as there is in the state. He has some range and can hit from 40 yards out consistently in games.”
Fields said he and his West coaching staff know a lot of the players very well.
“With a lot of these players, we’ve watched the play. We’ve scouted against them and we’ve played against them,” Fields said. “You know who can play and you know a lot coming in where they are going to play and who can play what. That’s an advantage that you have playing in these all-star games.”
Last year’s inaugural East-West game will be remembered for years.
Not for the game itself, but for other happenings.
Last year’s game was dubbed “The Fog Bowl” as thick fog rolled over the mountain at Harless Stadium causing a stir on both sidelines and in the crowd and making visibility nearly zero on the field.
Play continued in the fog and the West, led by head coach Gary Mullins of Logan, ended up blanketing the East 35-0. The West even scored a phantom touchdown in the dense fog on a long pass in which no one knows how the receiver could even see the ball.
Last year’s game also produced a Hatfield-McCoy-like feud on the field as a bench-clearing brawl stopped play briefly after tempers flared.
For the first time in the long combined history of either the Hatfield-McCoy Bowl or the East-West All-Star Classic, players from Man High School will not play alongside their Logan County counterparts from Chapmanville and Logan.
Man players this year will play for the East.
“We had to spread it out, so the Logan guys are excited about playing against the Man guys one more time,” Fields joked.
West All-Star Roster
Johnathan Burke, Capital
Kahil Chase, Capital
Rashad Cunningham, Capital
Bob Perry, Wayne
Mason Hodge, Wayne
Nate Adkins, Wayne
Tucker Watts, Wayne
Colin Kelly, Wayne
Tyler Harrison, Wayne
Tyler Harrison, Mingo Central
Zach Holt, Mingo Central
Ethan Jones, Mingo Central
Chance Lester, Mingo Central
Chase Justice, Mingo Central
Clay Ellis, Mingo Central
Houston Hill, Sissonville
Tyler Shaffer, Sissonville
Austin Baisden, Tug Valley
Daulton Spaulding, Tug Valley
Luke Hall, Ripley
Zac Acord, Logan
Jeremiah Spears, Logan
Ryan Miller, Logan
Zac Casto, Chapmanville
Michael Hall, Chapmanville
Austin Kirk, Chapmanville
John McClure, Scott
Bo Jeffrey, Scott
Elijah Price, Scott
Coaches: Joey Fields, Josh Sammons, Terry Jo Harrison, Jake Staton and Garth Simpkins
East All-Star Roster
Justin Kenneda, Westside
Bryce Robinson, Westside
Thomas Aliff, Westside
Tristan Jones, Wyoming East
Aaron Griffith, Wyoming East
Nik Walker, Wyoming East
Jacob Dulcie, Wyoming East
Hunter Simmons, Wyoming East
Steven Cook, Wyoming East
Jordan Masterson, Bluefield
Chris Blankenship, Beckley
Ron Blanks Jr., Beckley
Caleb Adkins, Man
Gage Harvey, Man
Neil Mullins, Man
Mikle Scott Rowe, Man
Bryce Goff, Man
Jordan Wilson, Riverview
Marlin Marrs, Mt. View
Timothy Noulin, Mt. View
Andrew Hazzard, Mt. View
Chris Burks, Mt. View
Shane McDonald, Beckley
Malik Craighead, Bluefield
Coaches: Larry Cook, JoBuck Cook, Caleb Brown, Jerad Cook
(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).