MADISON — Logan County football players have mixed emotions heading into Saturday night’s East-West All-Star Classic.
For some, it will be their final time they will strap on the pads and put on the helmet, ending a chapter in their lives.
For a couple, it will be just the beginning as they will move on to the next level to play college ball.
There’s other mixed emotions, too.
For the first time ever in the combined history of the East-West and the old Hatfield McCoy Senior Bowl, Logan County players will not be on the same team. Players from Logan and Chapmanville will play for the West, while Man High School gridders will be on the other sideline playing for the East.
More on that later.
But for now, area football players are happy just to get to play one more game.
The East-West All-Star Classic is set for an 8 p.m. kickoff at Mingo Central’s Buck Harless Stadium.
Logan High School’s Zac Acord, Ryan Miller and Jeremiah Spears will play for the West alongside Chapmanville Regional High School’s Zac Casto, Michael Hall and Austin Kirk.
Man High School’s Neil Mullins, Bryce Goff, Mikle Scott Rowe, Gage Harvey and Caleb Adkins are on the East All-Star roster.
The players from Logan and Chapmanville will team up with gridders from Mingo Central, Tug Valley, Capital, Wayne, Ripley, Sissonville and Scott high schools.
West All-Star players gathered on Monday evening at Scott High School in Madison for its first practice.
Casto, a two-way player for Chapmanville, said he’s excited to play in the game. As a wide receiver, he had 30 catches for 388 yards and three touchdowns last fall for the Tigers. On the defensive side of the ball, Casto had 79 total tackles (solo and assists combined), a sack and a fumble recovery.
“I’m pretty excited to play with all of these good athletes,” Casto said. “I get to play at least one more game in my high school career. I also finally get to play on the same team with all of the boys from Wayne and Scott. They’ve always been good athletes and they have won so it will be good to finally play with them.”
Casto said he plans on attending Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College this fall.
“I’m going to go to college at Southern and become a surgical tech,” Casto said.
Miller, last year’s starting quarterback at Logan, had a record-breaking season as he completed 160-of-312 passes for 2,455 yards with 24 touchdowns for the 2-8 Wildcats. He’s expected to play QB along with Wayne’s Nate Adkins in Saturday night’s game.
“I can’t wait,” said Miller, who is heading to play this fall at the University of Charleston. “After this game, I go and start to prepare for college. I know that it’s going to be tough. They like to throw the ball a lot at UC and that’s what I like.”
Miller said he hopes West All-Star head coach Joey Fields opens up the playbook.
“That’s great with me,” Miller said. “I love to pass it.”
As is the case in many all-star football games you can expect the unexpected. In last year’s 35-0 win by the West over the East in “The Fog Bowl,” the West All-Stars, led by head coach Gary Mullins of Logan, successfully executed two hook-and-ladder plays.
“I’m hoping there’s some trick plays,” Miller said. “That (hook-and-ladder) was the number one play in our playbook a couple of games at Logan.”
Miller said the West is loaded with talent.
“We’ve got skilled guys definitely,” he said. “When you’ve got players coming from Capital and up in the Charleston area that is big because Capital won the state championship this year. That’s going to be a big plus for us.”
Miller said he plans on studying physical therapy at UC.
Miller’s top target at Logan, wide receiver Zac Acord, will play as well for the West. Last season, Acord caught 72 passes for 1,080 yards and 10 touchdowns and also got a handful of carries, mostly on jet sweeps.
Acord is walking on this fall with the Marshall University football team. He’ll get a preview of the Kelly Green and White as the West has Herd-like color schemes on their uniform. The East will don the Blue and Gold of WVU.
“I’m pretty excited to go to Marshall but I know that it’s going to be real hard going as a walk on. I’ve been working out and trying to stay in shape,” Acord said. “But I can’t wait to play in this game. I think that we’re going to be pretty tough.”
Acord said he plans on majoring in criminal justice at Marshall.
Chapmanville’s Hall said he’s also excited to play in the all-star game. Hall had 92 total tackles last year for the 4-6 Tigers.
“I think that it’s pretty cool to play in this game. I haven’t been able to play football in awhile,” Hall said. “It’s a good way to go out with a bang. This is my last football game. It’s heartbreaking but I get a chance to play with so many awesome people. It’s good to play with all of the guys from the Cardinal Conference and the Logan guys. I went to school with the Logan players.”
Spears, who played on both sides of the ball last year for Logan, had 48 tackles, one pass break-up and one fumble recovery last season. As a tight end, he had one catch that went for a 10-yard TD grab.
Spears said the West has a good roster.
“Skill positions are good and I think that we’re going to have a good line,” Spears said.
Spears predicted victory on Saturday night.
“I think that we’ll demolish them. I’d say that we will make it 55-0. They might score one,” he said, tougue-and-cheek style.
Spears said it’s great to play one more football game.
“It’s one of those dreams that you get to play with all of your buddies,” he said. “For me, this is my last football game. I’ve got a lot of mixed emotions. It’s sad and I can’t wait but I also don’t want it to be over.”
Spears said he’s headed to Marshall this fall and he wants to get into the nursing program with a goal set of some day being a nurse practitioner.
Chapmanville’s Kirk said the West has the complete package. Last year for the Tigers, he recorded 66 combined tackles and also had a fumble recovery.
“I think this is a pretty good all-around team,” Kirk said. “I think that we’ve got a little bit of everything. I don’t think that we’ve got very many weaknesses. I think that we will do pretty well come Saturday. We’ve got a lot of speed, power and quickness. I believe that we’ve got it all.”
Kirk said he’s happy to play with the Charleston area players for once and wondered what it would have been like to have those caliber players back at Chapmanville.
“That would have been exciting to have those guys. That would have been fun to watch,” Kirk said. “That would have been pretty good. I wouldn’t have minded that actually.”
(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).