OVAC ALL-Star Game: Coaches Like What They’re Seeing

BETHANY – For the coaches and players, the Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Football Charity Classic is somewhat serious business. There’s no question they want to see the scoreboard read in their favor when they walk off the field Sunday night.

But the days leading up to kickoff at Wheeling Island Stadium offer many opportunities for lighthearted moments, as well. Monday was one of those.

Media Day is a respite for the West Virginia and Ohio squads. It’s a chance to don the pads, lace up the shoes and hit the field without the Xs and Os. Just smile for the camera, talk with a journalists and you’re done.

The real work? Well, it’s actually already started.

Not long after the more than 60 players reported to Bethany College for camp Sunday, they met with their respective coaching staffs and started to lay the foundation for what they hope will be a formula for success.

Both coaches – West Virginia’s Mike Young and Ohio’s Mark Holenka – are happy with what they’ve seen thus far.

”We have the cream of the crop coming in to play,” Young, the veteran Wheeling Central coach said. ”This is a great opportunity for the kids and this is a great opportunity for my coaching staff to be able to coach these kids.”

A steady rain fell from the sky during most of the outdoor portion of Monday’s activities, but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of either squad.

”We’re trying to continue to put the pieces together and keep making strides through Saturday,” said Holenka, who will return to his normal head coaching duties at Shadyside High School next week.

”If we do that, we’ll be a pretty good football team. ”If we played (Monday), we’d probably get our butts whipped. We have to gel together and we have a week to do that.”

Young agreed getting everyone on the same page is a process.

”The big thing you have to do when playing Ohio is be able to match up up front,” he said. ”That’s key.

”Both sides have their skill players, but up front is where the game is won or lost.

”I think we have a nice caliber of kids that can work in the trenches that can open up some holes or stop the run.”

Both teams will practice twice today at Bison Stadium, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

”You’re basically putting a shell of a defense in and a shell of an offense in … something people can understand in a short span of time,” Holenka said. ”You hope athleticism and talent takes over for what you can’t put in as far as schemes and things.”

With the Wheeling Central staff coaching the Mountaineers, the Buckeyes will have to be ready for the Maroon Knights’ familiar ‘spin series.’

”Defensively, (West Virginia) is going to see an offense that’s a lot more conventional than what we’ll see,” Holenka said. ”They’ll run the ‘spin series’ and it’ll take a little more time to get ready for that as opposed to what teams normally see week in and week out.”

Young said they’ll be some of that. But part of the beauty of an all-star game is the luxury of implementing some things one might not use in a regular-season game.

”We’ll probably open (the playbook) up a little more than what we’re used to in having such skilled receivers, quarterbacks and running backs,” he said. ”And when you have that much versatility it allows you to be able to spread your offense a little bit and widen the field up a little bit more and run a few more special plays.

”We want these kids to have a great experience.”