BETHANY - Blending 33 guys, many of whom didn't know each personally, in a week's time well enough to be a cohesive unit can be a tough task.
The coaches can only do so much in that process, too.
At some point the players have to take it upon themselves to make the unit run collectively.
Both Ohio head coach Jose Davis and West Virginia head coach B.J. Depew have been more than pleased with the work on and off the field the players have put in this week.
Ohio's players formed such a bond that when Davis approached them about voting for team captains, they had made a decision.
Rather than voting, the players elected to make everyone a captain and they'll walk out toward the center of the field for the coin flip collectively prior to the game.
"It's really a neat thing because these guys have seen that there's a bigger picture here than just football," Davis said.
Davis insisted he, nor his any member of his coaching staff, made any kind of recommendation to take that route. However, he also didn't put up any resistance to the decision, either.
"It definitely works for me," Davis said. "This is what the kids wanted to do and this game is about the kids."
Football rules don't permit all 33 guys to be near the coin flip, thus two speaking captains - Shadyside's Chris Littell and Steubenville Central's Brenton Colabella - will serve in that capacity.
"Those two have been great leaders all week for us," Davis said.
Davis remembers the captains from the 1996 game when he was a member of the Buckeye roster, but he'll probably still remember every captains' name from this year as well.
"With the guys deciding to do it that way, you can tell the kind of camp we've had and things have gone and been done the right way," Davis said. "I know, from watching these guys all week, that when we lace them up on Sunday, everyone will be together and on the same page."
On the West Virginia side, Depew conducted a team vote and he had absolutely no argument with the results.
Leading the Mountaineers through warm-up drills and to the coin flip will be John Marshall's Trevor Hardesty, Linsly's Austin Whipkey, Wheeling Park's Zach Phillips and Wheeling Park's Geremy Paige.
"Those guys are all natural leaders," Depew said. "They had well-known, highly productive high school careers."
Paige has worked extremely hard because he actually missed the first few workouts because of a commitment at Gannon University, where he'll be reporting in a few weeks. So, he's been in catch-up mode.
His linebacking mate is Hardesty, while Phillips is expected to see a lot of action at quarterback and Whipkey will help anchor the defensive line.
"These four guys were selected by their teammates for their emotional leadership during our practices and their efforts to bring the team together socially," Depew said.
THE PLAYERS, on both teams, will wrap up their official preparation today with a walk through in the morning and then the officially rest and relax process leading up to kick-off begins.
THIS EVENING the OVAC McDonald's All-Star Band will debut its show at the pep rally where all the players, cheerleaders and queen contestants will be honored. Following the pep rally, a dance will be held. The pep rally will begin at 6.
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