BETHANY - Let the preparations begin.
After a few weeks of roster changes and trying to find replacement players, all 66 players for the 67th annual Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Charity Classic checked into camp Sunday morning as all-star week got under way.
Ohio head coach Eric Schumacher and West Virginia head coach Doug Taylor had some restless times in leading up to the game as they had several late changes to the rosters, which are now official since players can't be replaced once camp begins for next Sunday's game at Wheeling Island Stadium.
UNION LOCAL’S Zane Ayouch receives his game jersey after checking in Sunday morning at Bethany College for OVAC All-Star Game camp. ?The game is slated for Sunday at Wheeling Island Stadium. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
"The tough part is over," Schumacher smiled. "It was very difficult to pick the top 33 athletes from the conference because there are so many deserving players, but unfortunately, we can only pick 33. It was a tough process."
Schumacher had to replace players for a myriad of reasons from baseball, to job obligations, injuries and even disciplinary reasons.
Two of the latest additions to the team were Monroe Central's Kole Hogue and Edison's Kyle Minger.
"We're glad to be able to get into camp and just focus on preparing for the game," Schumacher said. "Our coaching staff has been wanting to get to camp. We've been getting antsy. We're all competitive and looking forward to the challenge."
The Ohio coaching staff and players are trying to snap a two-game losing skid to the Mountain State rivals.
However, the West Virginia side is still using the underdog card as a rallying point for the week.
"Most of our coaching staff was down here in 2006 when we were at Weir High and unfortunately we lost that game," Taylor said. "I really feel, even though West Virginia has won a couple in a row, that Ohio is still the team to beat with a lot of great athletes. We have a lot of good players on our squad and I look for a good game."
Along with checking into their dorms on campus, both teams were scheduled to go through an evening practice. West Virginia was slated to go under the lights.
The players also received their uniforms, underwent a physical and learned their way around the Bison facilities.
"Today's going to be a little bit of a cluster as we try to get settled in, but we have to get to work," Taylor said. "We have to get everyone on the same page."
Ohio went through a 90-minute walk through to acclimate itself with the terminology the Buckeye staff will implement.
"We want to get the kids introduced to everyone and get the way we do things down," Schumacher said. "We've got to make use of every second we have here to prepare for this game."
The players went through a workout again this morning and were scheduled to meet with the media and have picture day this afternoon.
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