Teamwork yields smooth OVAC game relocation

MARTINS FERRY – The OVAC Rudy Mumley All-Star Game has long been associated with Wheeling Island Stadium.

Conference officials, however, were forced to move out of their comfort zone with the game’s venue this time around. That was a result of a stadium in need of some major repairs, likely closing the facility until October.

The Martins Ferry School District made a successful pitch to serve as the alternate site, winning out over several other suitors. Saturday night’s game at the Dave Bruney Football Complex marked just the third time the OVAC all-star clash has been played off the Island.

The move across the Ohio River played out seamlessly, due to solid teamwork, cooperation and communication by OVAC officials and the Ferry administration.

“Coach Kim (Appolloni), Coach Dave (Bruney) and I have met with Tom Rataiczak and Game Director Bob Koch on several occasions. We also have met with city officials including Mayor Krajnyak, Chief John MacFarland, Water Superintendent Bill Suto, EMS Coordinator Dave Snyder and Fire Chief Mike Cooper to make sure everything was in place,” Martins Ferry Schools Superintendent Jim Fogle said. “The event is extremely large and it’s an awesome way to showcase the talents of our students in the OVAC. Coach Kim has been the main cog for the organization of this production.

“Todd Yoder and myself put some time into this event, but Coach Kim has worked tirelessly with the OVAC brass to make it a memorable night for the participants. She has also organized several volunteers to work game night,” he added.

“Mr. Yoder and I have overseen many updates to the Dave Bruney Football Complex, ranging from the turf replacement, new paint, asphalt, new scoreboard and updates to some of the restrooms,” he added. “It’s been quite sometime since we’ve done any updates to the stadium. The cooperation between the OVAC, the city and our school officials has been tremendous.”

Fogle’s thoughts are echoed by Appolloni.

“Bob Koch and Rat have this game down to a science. The amount of time and energy they have placed into this event is mind boggling. They have guided us along the way. Basically we have turned our complex over to them and will provide the manpower to hopefully pull it off,” Appolloni said. “We could not have done this without the support of the city administration and Larry Deaton, who as always, is the backbone of the boosters support. Mr. Fogle, Mr. Yoder and Coach Dave have spent a tremendous amount of man hours making sure the facility looks top-notch. The complex has undergone a complete facelift with new turf, painting and asphalt work and our new scoreboard.

“We are so excited and honored to be able to host the all-star game. It is a long-standing Ohio Valley tradition. Basically it kicks off the start of football in the valley, and football is so important to the communities up and down the river and throughout our entire area,” she offered. “We are so fortunate here in Martins Ferry to have the support from not only our administration but also from the entire city.”

Rataiczak was praiseworthy with the efforts put forth by the Purple people to make such an immense relocation come to fruition.

“To move a game such as this, with all the pieces needed to pull it off, is a monumental and stressful undertaking. When you are used to having everything the same, everything in place, everything lined up, as we were so used to at Wheeling Island, it’s a challenge to say the least,” the OVAC executive-secretary said. “That being said, Dave Bruney and Kim Appolloni have been unbelievable. Everything they could possibly do to smooth the transition, they’ve done. You have to realize that they are doing a lot of work at the field to get ready for their own season, work that would normally be stretched out for another month, so they are facing a huge task themselves to get ready for the game.

“We are very grateful to the administration, board, police department, business, everyone who has been so willing to showcase their facility and their town,” Rataiczak said. “The conference is truly blessed to have people like Ohio County and Martins Ferry so willing to pitch in and help out to make this game a special event for the kids.”


SPEAKING OF the OVAC football game, much was discussed, written and tweeted about Wheeling Post 1 American Legion baseball players having to make a choice to play in either their Area One Tournament or the all-star football game, but not both.

A plan was being put in place early in the week preceding all-star camp to make both athletic endeavors available to all those in question. The OVAC was painted unfairly as the bad guy in this scenario.

Critics failed to do their homework, placing unfair blame on the OVAC.


ZEKE ELLIOTT is a very talented football player. Unfortunately, the former Ohio State running star comes up short when it comes to maturity. The second-year Dallas Cowboy needs to clean up his off-field escapades before he train wrecks a great career.

JOHN MAGISTRO has announced his intentions to step down as Westerville Central’s head football coach after the upcoming season. The former Bellaire High coaching great is too young, too successful and makes too much of a positive impact with young men not to be involved in coaching when the 2018 season rolls around.

GETTING A college football program started is a most challenging task. Wheeling Jesuit University, however, made an outstanding choice in naming Zac Bruney to build the Cardinal program from the ground up. He is young, passionate with sparkling coaching and playing resumes while coming from a football-fervent family.

KUDOS TO the Marshall County BOE and John Marshall officials. The $9 million football field/track facility project is one sorely needed. The current stadium has been long outdated. The Monarchs boast some outstanding athletic facilities, starting in 2018 football and track will be among them.

CHRIS HOLTMANN’S success at Butler landed him the Ohio State men’s basketball job last month. His winning ways at Butler were fueled by Jim Peal, his strength and conditioning coach. Peal is a former Shadyside High standout gridder.

THE BUCKEYE LOCAL Board of Education is expected to employ a new head boys’ basketball coach at its Monday meeting.