Local student-athletes to continue careers

WHEELING – National Signing Day, which is also commonly referred to as Letter of Intent Day, is the culmination of more than simply four years of high school. In most cases it’s a lifetime’s worth of working and dreaming to achieve a goal that statistics show is an opportunity that only a few are able to attain.

No surprise then, that the blue-collar Ohio Valley had numerous players agree to continue their academic and athletic careers at four-year institutions. More are sure to come at later dates.

Leading the way, of course, even though he enrolled early and has been a part of the program for a couple months, is St. Clairsville linebacker Michael Ferns, who committed to the University of Michigan during his junior season. High school teammate and kicker Zach Musilli (West Liberty) will join him at the collegiate level.

Meanwhile, all-everything Madonna quarterback Ross Comis, who finished second in voting for the Kennedy Award, which is given annually to the state’s best high school player, cast his lot with Division-I UMass of the Mid-American Conference.

The Mountain East gained its fair share of OVAC athletes. Closest to home, West Liberty, in addition to Musilli, landed record-setting Steubenville Catholic quarterback Brenton Colabella, John Marshall all-state linebacker Trevor Hardesty, and Cambridge offensive-defensive lineman Clifford Clark.

Bishop Donahue receiver Jared Yates, who really came on as a senior, is headed to Concord, while two-time all-state Wheeling Central running back C.J. Burch signed with Glenville State.

Brooke receiver Joey Staffelino, who had a tremendous career and was a factor for four years, liked what he saw from reigning MEC champion Shepherd and agreed to sign on the dotted line. Meanwhile, two-sport standout Robert Vargo of Martins Ferry will attend Ohio Dominican.

A little further east, Morgantown is sending offensive lineman Amanii Brown to West Virginia. Kennedy Award-winning running back Chazzy Thomas and offensive linemen Zach Mayle, Andre Collins and D.J. Summers are all Fairmont State signees.

University defensive end Tony Richardson selected Virginia Military Institute, while kicker Billy Kinney (West Virginia), offensive lineman Jeff Headley (WVU) and receiver-defensive back Jack Armstrong (William & Mary) are all going the walk-on route.