Consol Energy Cup adds to OVAC rivalry

WHEELING – State pride has always been on the line during the annual Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Charity Football Classic.

The trouble with state pride, though, is you can’t really show it to your kids.

Game organizers, along with Consol Energy, have changed that with the announcement of the Consol Energy Cup, a trophy that will be displayed at the OVAC Museum inside of WesBanco Arena with the name of the winning coach engraved on it each year.

Both Ohio head coach Mark Holenka and West Virgina’s Mike Young would like to see their name as the first one on there.

”I think it adds to the rivalry,” Young said. ”They’re putting your name on it. It’s going to be displayed. It’s another significant piece that causes for the rivalry to become greater.

”We’d love to be the first. That causes a whole new drive to succeed.”

Added Holenka: ”It would be nice for all of the Ohio boys and their parents and for the Class of 2013 to feel like they’re more of a part of it.

”I think it’s fun. I think it’s a neat idea.”

Introduced at Wednesday’s annual George Strager Evening with the Stars Dinner at the Wheeling Park White Palace by Consol Energy’s Miranda Kessel, the Cup is the latest addition in a long line of ”tweaks” during the 68-year run of the all-star game.

It’s also a part of the company’s interest in getting more involved in communities and schools.

Consol began its affiliation with the OVAC by offering a scholarship at the annual Banquet of Champions.

”After they did that, they said they’d really like to get more involved …” said Tom Rataiczak, executive director of the OVAC. ”So they asked if they could possibly do something with the game. They came up with this idea.

”We’re real excited they became involved in it, and hopefully it will be something neat that year in and year out will be talked about.”

Ohio leads the series, 42-24-1, meaning the Buckeyes would have a lot more coaches names on the Cup, had this program or one similar began during the game’s first year.

Also at Wednesday’s Strager dinner, all players, cheerleaders, and Queen of Queens participants were introduced with Rataiczak rattling off some impressive numbers those kids will be added to.

To date, 3,649 athletes have played in the game and 1,351 Queen of Queens have participated in that contest.

The dinner exists, in part, as a way to continue to remember Strager, who was a head coach at Wheeling Central, Cambridge, and most notably a 19-year run with St. Clairsville. Strager passed away in 1990 but through a football camp and scholarship program, his memory lives in the Ohio Valley.

To date, 107 players have received Strager scholarships, totalling more than $28,000.