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OVAC Notes: Heat May Turn Into A Factor

July 19, 2011
By RICK THORP - Staff Writer ( , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

BETHANY - West Virginia and Ohio all-stars were feeling the heat Monday afternoon at Bethany College.

And it wasn't coming from their coaches.

The FieldTurf surface at Bison Stadium, which is only a few years old, was boiling as players, coaches, members of the media and game staff ventured on to it for the first time for Media Day festivities.

Everyone could see the heat literally rising off the field as they exited the day's news conference inside the Thomas P. Johnson Health and Recreation Center.

Players donned their shoulder pads and jerseys for the event, which was split almost evenly between the Mountaineers and Buckeyes.

Each team spent about 45 minutes on the field. And, despite a light breeze, the temperature was certainly a topic of conversation.

But, as Mother Nature would likely say in her ''Scent of a Woman'' Col. Slade voice "I'm just gettin' warmed up."

Pardon the pun.

The hottest conditions of the summer are forecast to get hotter as the week moves forward.

That's a fact not lost on West Virginia trainer Randy Elliott.

Elliott, the veteran trainer from Oak Glen High School, and Herb Minch, the trainer at West Liberty University, are paying special attention to weather conditions.

''We were out (Monday) morning and by 9 a.m. (The heat) was pretty intense,'' said Elliott, who has served as an OVAC gleam game trainer for about 35 years.

''We hear by Thursday and Friday it's going to be unbearable.''

How do the players cope with it? Elliott said the answer's old school.

''I keep telling the kids to stay hydrated and watch the color in their urine and things like that,'' he said.

''Stick with the fruits and stay away from the pops, coffees and other diuretics. keep that urine clear.''

Elliott used to use a tachometer to keep track of the conditions. Technology has changed that.

''You can do stuff like that on your phone,'' Elliott said, holding up his smartphone. ''You get temperature, humidity. It's amazing what technology can do.''

While most of the players have been away from the field since November, both coaches were impressed with the shape of their players as they arrived at camp.

''I think they're in great shape,'' West Virginia coach Mark Batton said. ''We were on turf Sunday and running. The receivers and running backs were in good shape. We really didn't see anyone bending over and gasping for air.''

It's All Relative

Each year, there's always a current all-star with family ties to the past.

Oak Glen's Shane Koper, Brooke's Ryan Lazear and River's Tanner Wright will be receiving pointers on how to handle their all-star experience this July.

Koper has the largest all-star pedigree. His grandfather played in the 1960 game, while his father, Richard, and his uncle, Rob, competed in 1987 and 1982, respectively.

Lazear's grandfather, Harry, participated in 1946, while his father, Jim, competed in 1983.

Wright's father, Donnie, played in the 1981 tilt.

The Men in Stripes

Wheeling's Bill Wilhelm and Moundsville's Chuck Taskalines will serve as honorary officials for Sunday's 7:15 p.m. kickoff at Wheeling Island Stadium.

Game officials this year include:Bill Walter, referee; Mark Vukelic, umpire; Mark Kerwood, linesman; Jon Hamm, line judge; Larry Shane; Bob Gaylor, field judge; Lance Jacob, back judge.

That's the Ticket

Tickets are the game are available at many locations on the West Virginia and Ohio sides of the Ohio River. They are $7 in advance and $10 at the gate. Fans aged 5 and under are admitted free.

West Virginia ticket locations include Benwood (Kroger), Cameron (Greg's Market), Chester (Citizen Drug), Moundsville (Kroger), New Martinsville (Witschey's Supermarket), Warwood (Kroger), Weirton (Kroger, St. Thomas Drive and Main Street locations), Wellsburg (Kroger) and Wheeling (Kroger).

Ohio ticket locations are Bellaire (Kroger), Cambridge (The Jeffersonian), East Liverpool (All-Sports Supplies), Martins Ferry (Kroger), Shadyside (DeFelice Brothers Pizza), St. Clairsville (Kroger), Steubenville (Kroger and Smitty's Floors), Wellsville (Center Pharmacy), Wintersville (Kroger) and Woodsfield (Weber's Drugs).

Strike Up the Band

Dru Meyer will lead the 171-member OVAC McDonald's All-Star Band, which will report to Bethany later this week.

Leading the Cheers

Tyler Consolidated's Stephanie Starcher and St. Clairsville's Joanne Verba will guide the 20 cheerleaders who will arrive at camp later this week.

Rick Thorp can be reached via e-mail at

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