By SETH STASKEY
Times Leader Sports Editor
WHEELING - It's getting to the point of the week where the players and coaches are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
T-L Photo/SETH STASKEY
PICTURED ARE the recipients of the annual George Strager Scholarship presented Wednesday night. Front row, from left, are Derek Yocke (Wheeling Central), C.J. Burch (Wheeling Central), Trevor Hardesty (John Marshall) and Austin Whipkey (Linsly). Back row, from left, are presenter Kelly Rine, Joel Giffin (St. Clairsville), Colby Lindsay (St. Clairsville), Kordell Stage (Cambridge), Zach Musilli (St. Clairsville) and presenter Mike Young. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
The events surrounding the Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Football Game kicked into full swing Wednesday night when the players, cheerleaders and Queen of Queens contestants were honored at the annual George Strager Evening With the Stars banquet at the White Palace inside Wheeling Park.
While the events are picking up, both coaches - Jose Davis and B.J. Depew - are finding ways to make sure their players stay focused, but also soak up the experience.
"(Practice) is almost getting a little monotonous, but you have to keep doing what you're doing because we're to the point where it's all about repetition to make sure the guys understand what they're supposed to do," Davis said. "We're going over different looks and things, but we also have to start finding ways to getting their legs back."
Though the heat and humidity rose the past two days, both teams continued the grind with a pair of practices. Ohio went in full gear Wednesday morning, but Davis doesn't expect to put that kind of equipment on again until Sunday evening.
"We were really physical twice and that's what we wanted to get in," Davis said. "We wanted to see what we had and see who could do what in different scenarios, but we'll really start laying off of them now and keep them off the ground."
Neither coach would commit to a depth chart just yet, but both said it's starting to become more and more clear with each practice.
"We have to get to the point of slimming down some guys (in some areas)," Davis said. "We need to have our quarterback and receivers with some kind of relationship, so we have to get it to where we're cutting down some of the reps for some guys. So many of our guys are able to do some special things that it's a matter of us as a staff being able to put them in a position to shine."
When Davis and his staff chose the Ohio squad, they took many players they'd become familiar with during their stint as coaches at Bellaire, but thus far, it's been Dalton Secrest of Beallsville who has jumped out at Davis.
"I've been watching Dalton at practice and now that I'm at St. John, I've been thinking, 'holy heck, if we had to block him this year, we'd have to put 10 guys on him and have the quarterback try to run away from him,'" Davis said.
Secrest, who was an all-Ohioan and recorded more than 25 sacks from his defensive line position for the Blue Devils, was quite honored that his head coach spoke so highly of his play.
"Camp's been going well and I've just been working really hard trying to earn a spot on the field (Sunday night)," Secrest said. "Knowing that Coach Davis has noticed me makes me feel really good. I just came (to camp) trying to prove myself and show what I could do."
ON TOP of the banquet, the annual presentation of a $300 scholarship for the athletes who took part in the George Strager Football Camp at St. Clairsville in 2013 and then were chosen for the OVAC Game took place. Receiving those awards were: Joel Giffin (St. Clairsville), Zach Musilli (St. Clairsville), Colby Lindsay (St. Clairsville) and Kordell Stage (Cambridge) from Ohio. The West Virginia recipients included: Derek Yocke (Wheeling Central), C.J. Burch (Wheeling Central), Trevor Hardesty (John Marshall) and Austin Whipkey (Linsly).
THE MORE than 130-member OVAC McDonald's All-Star Band checked into Bethany College Wednesday morning to begin its preparations for Sunday's show.
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org