Being selected to participate in the OVAC Rudy Mumley All-Star Football Game is quite an honor for any senior high school football player.
To be lucky enough to get picked to represent your home state - be it Ohio or West Virginia - is something that the players will cherish for years to come. It's actually likely they won't realize the honor until they age a little and look back on their prep gridiron careers.
However, what if you live in Ohio and go to school in West Virginia?
That's the case for a pair of players on the Mountaineers roster this season. Jameson Murray, who starred for four seasons at Linsly, resides in Beallsville, while fellow Cadet, Reno Colaianni, is an Adena resident.
"It's definitely a different feeling," Colaianni admitted during Monday's media day festivities on the campus of Bethany College. "I grew up always watching and rooting for the Ohio team, but going to high school in West Virginia made me flip-flop sides."
Come Sunday night, his allegiance to the Buckeye State takes a brief break for the game.
"I will definitely not be rooting for the Ohio team this year," he stressed. "I will be rooting for myself and my teammates and, hopefully, we'll get that big victory."
Colaianni said he knows a couple of kids on the Ohio roster.
"I know Devan Pyciak from Buckeye Local and Colby Lindsay from St. Clairsville," he said.
"This is a huge honor to play in this game," Colaianni, who is listed as 6-1, 210-pound two-way lineman, expressed. "It shows that all the hard work that I put in, not only for myself, but my family and community, has paid off."
Following Sunday's game, it will be back to being a Buckeye for Colaianni, who is enrolled at The Ohio State University for fall classes.
Murray agreed that the feeling is different.
"Obviously, I've got some friends on the Ohio team, so hopefully they won't kill me," the 5-10, 180-pound quarterback said with a laugh. "They said they'd be nice."
He was namely talking about Beallsville all-Ohio defensive tackle Dalton Secrest.
When the action hits the field Sunday, Secrest will likely be chasing Jameson all over the artificial surface at Wheeling Island Stadium.
"We've got a pretty good bunch of guys," Murray said of his W.Va. teammates. "I played against some of them at Linsly, so we all kind of know each other."
Murray said he was talked into looking at Linsly prior to his freshman year of high school by a cousin, Zak Kreichbaum.
"I really liked it and my family found a way to keep me there for four years," he said. "I have no regrets at all."
THE OVAC week activities continued Tuesday as a group of players from the 1964 game gathered in the west meeting room at WesBanco Arena in downtown Wheeling for a noon luncheon. They will be honored during the first quarter of Sunday night's game.
Ten former all-stars, along with one coach, returned for the impromptu reunion, if you will. Eight represented the Ohio squad, including head coach Dan McGrew (St. John Central) and players Paul Briggs (Martins Ferry); Lew Delbert (Bellaire); Doug DuBois (Union Local); Dave Hall (Bridgeport); Frank Popp (Brilliant); Frank Savarese (Yorkville); and Dave Trouten (St. John Central). Representing West Virginia were Jerry Cappiccie (Wheeling Central); Jay Duffy (Wheeling Central); and Terry Yeager (Paden City).
Of the 54 members of the 1964 game (50 players, 2 head coaches, 2 assistants), eight on the Ohio side are deceased, while 11 on the West Virginia side have passed on.
Tom Rataiczak, OVAC Executive Secretary, told those in attendance Monday that this is truly the first class that can celebrate the 50-year history of their playing in the all-star contest.
"You guys are the first true 50-year class in the cycle," he explained. "We had been doing two or three years at a time before this year just trying to catch up. Now, we finally have."
There was no game held in 1963 due to the Vietnam War.
Ohio won the 1964 game, 2-0, when West Virginia snapped the ball over the quarterback's head and out of the end zone for a safety.
Not in attendance, Wellsburg's Lynn Dodd, the infamous center on that squad, sent a reply to Rataiczak stating, "Sorry, but for health reasons I cannot attend, but tell the guys I'm sorry for losing the game for them."
Also comprising the Ohio roster 50 years ago were *Miles Bell (Cadiz); Jack Bernosky (Adena); Bob Bowyer (East Liverpool); *Dave Ice (Bellaire); Mike Koran (Mt. Pleasant); John Livorno (Shadyside); Claude Luke (Shadyside); Chester Masloski (Adena); Charles McCool (Shadyside); *Gregg Merrill (Barnesville); *Wayne Peters (Bellaire); *Ed Roman (Shadyside); Rick Terry (Steubenville); *Jim Thompson (Mt. Pleasant); Stewart Tolbert (St. John Central); Frank West (Martins Ferry); Andy Wiley (Powhatan); *John Yarbrough (Powhatan); and *Frances Sebring (assistant coach).
The West Virginia squad was made of up of *Rick Antioch (Linsly); Bill Brookover (Magnolia); Rich Budash (Follansbee St. Anthony); Dave Byrd (Weir); Tim Connell (Weir); *Dennis Deegan (Wheeling Central); *Charles DiBias (Wheeling Central); *Vince DiBias (Warwood); Walter Fitzpatrick (Wellsburg); Harvey Foster (Moundsville); *Jim Garback (Wheeling Central); Dave Gilliam (Weir); *Paul Goggin (Follansbee); Jim Hull (Union); Bob Hunnell (Moundsville); *Mike Ivaun (Madonna); Bill Jeneskee (Follansbee); Bob Lamont (Triadelphia); Steve Myers (Magnolia); Gary Rine (Moundsville); John Sobota (Bishop Donahue); *George Strager (head coach); *George Demko (assistant coach).
Stay tuned to The Times Leader all week for OVAC coverage.
North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org