NEWTOWN — In the four years the Mingo Central High School football team has played on top of the mountain at Buck Harless Stadium in Newtown, Miners’ coach Yogi Kinder has seen some strange weather.
But none like last summer at the inaugural East-West All-Star Classic.
Last year’s game will be remembered as the “Fog Bowl.”
Twice during the first half of play, dense fog rolled across the mountain, over the field and into the stadium.
Visibility was nearly zero for anyone in the stands or on the outer edges of the stadium.
Play continued and the West All-Stars somehow managed to score on a touchdown pass in the first half whiteout.
Hardly anyone saw it, though.
The West went on to beat the East All-Stars 35-0.
The second-ever East-West All-Star Classic is scheduled for this Saturday night at Mingo Central.
Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.
Kinder, who also serves as the East-West Game Director, is still scratching his head about last year’s wild weather.
“That was the wildest game that I’ve ever seen,” he said. “The fog came in and I’ve never seen it like that. One day I said, ‘It just might some day.’ One time we were practicing and the fog came over and I said, ‘Wow, if this happens at night we’ll have a heck of a football game here.’”
Kinder said he’s still amazed the West was able to score on a touchdown pass in the fog.
“You couldn’t see anything,” he said. “That first touchdown that was scored was on that pass play. On the drive, by the time they got on the 50-yard line the fog was thickening. When they got to the 10, I couldn’t even see the pass.”
Strange weather often comes at Buck Harless Stadium.
Most of that has to do with the elevation as the stadium and school sit atop an old reclaimed surface coal mine site. The elevation is close to 2,000 feet and since it is so high it is often five to 10 degrees cooler.
Two years ago at Harless Stadium during the final Hatfield-McCoy Senior Bowl, temperatures were in the low 80s down in the valley at Matewan.
But at the football field is was in the mid-70s.
By the end of the game, a stiff wind blew and temperatures dropped to around 70. With the cool breeze it felt almost fall-like.
“I can leave my house at Matewan and by the time I get up there on the mountain it’s 10 degrees colder,” Kinder said. “It’s also the way that the wind blows up there all the time. But we have gotten used to it over the years, so we like to play at home and it’s a homefield advantage for us.”
During the high school season, October snow is a possibility, Kinder said.
“The weather is a factor up there,” he said. “During the high school football season, the cold is a factor. I remember a couple of years ago, we were playing Greenbrier East and it was the middle of October. We had two inches of snow by the time the game started. It’s always cold during the season but you kind of get used to it. It’s a higher elevation and the air is a little bit different.”
The good news for Saturday night is that the weather is looking pretty good.
A high temperature of 84 is in the forecast for Newtown with a low of 63.
It will be a few degrees cooler, though, up on the mountain.
There’s only a slight 20 percent chance of rain.
Nobody knows, though, if the fog will roll in a again.
“Hopefully, we’ll have a little bit better weather,” Kinder said. “Last year was some of the worst weather conditions that I’ve seen in 20 years of doing this.”
The Hatfield-McCoy Senior Bowl was often times plaqued by summer rain which made Matewan’s field muddy.
That won’t be an issue at Mingo Central even if it rains.
That’s because Harless Stadium has Field Turf.
(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).