OVAC stars always learning

WHEELING – The festivities that surround the annual Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Charity Football Classic kicked into full swing Wednesday evening.

The players, coaches, Queen of Queens candidates and all-star cheerleaders came together for the first time at the annual George Strager Evening With the Stars Dinner held at the White Palace inside Wheeling Park.

“This is a great experience for these kids in more ways than just football and making friendships with each other,” said Ohio head coach Mark Holenka. “Many of these kids have no idea who George Strager or Rudy Mumley are, so it’s a great learning process for these guys to know how this whole week came to be. And that will only continue as time goes on.”

Both teams went through two more practices before heading for Wheeling, which is their first time off the Bethany College campus since reporting on Sunday.

“We were kind of taking baby steps as we worked through things, but I thought we made our best progression (Wednesday),” Holenka said. “I still things where we definitely need to tighten up the bolts, but it’s getting there.”

Outside of a power outage and a fire alarm activating because of the outage on Bethany’s campus Tuesday evening, which was caused by one of the severe storms that rolled through the Ohio Valley, Holenka had nothing but glaring comments about how camp’s gone thus far.

“Bethany has been a great host. They treat us like royalty,” Holenka said. “On the field, we’ll start backing off from a physicality standpoint, but we’ll continue to study and go over things as we want to bring our learning curve down.”

Ohio’s had little problems with injury outside of the normal bumps and bruises that you’d imagine in day four of a football camp with many players who hadn’t played a game since late October.

“Overall, the kids are in pretty good shape, but at the same time, we’re not pounding a lot or anything,” Holenka said.

There’s an activity each of the remaining nights of camp. Tonight, an ice-cream social will be held.

The members of the Osiris Shrine visited Bethany for a presentation on Tuesday evening. However, it was cut short because of the power outage.

After wrapping up their practices, the players will load up for Wheeling again on Friday. They’ll take in the Queen of Queens pageant at WesBanco Arena.

The OVAC McDonald’s All-Star Band reported to Bethany on Wednesday to begin its preparations for Sunday’s game.

It will first show off its routine at Saturday evening’s pep rally held on Bethany’s campus. The players, cheerleaders, queens and coaches will then attend a dance.


OHIO’S BUS arrived from Bethany first and the Buckeye State players had already lined up for the traditional group photo when the West Virginia bus unloaded. The Buckeye players greeted their Mountain state counterparts with the famous, “OH-IO” chant.

“Some of these guys like to put on a show, but all of the kids on both teams are playing Xbox with each other in the evenings, so don’t let them fool you,” Holenka smiled.

MANY OF the players were seen taking additional Gatorade and water back to camp with them that their parents brought with them to the banquet.

WEST VIRGINIA head coach Mike Young told a story of a meeting he had with the late Bill Stewart, who is the former head coach at West Virginia University.

Stewart once told Young that he wished his son, Blaine, could one day play for Young, but this was well before Morgantown High joined the OVAC. Bill, who is a New Martinsville native, is smiling high above this week because his son, Blaine, is getting the chance to play for Young on the Mountain State team.

THE ANNUAL presentation of scholarships to those athletes who attended the 2012 George Strager Memorial Football Camp at St. Clairsville were made by St. C. Athletic Director Kelly Rine and Young. The five players receiving the financial award were St. C.’s Matt Kinnick, Bishop Donahue’s Jordan Bonar and Wheeling Central’s trio of Chance Siebeda, Michael Pleva and Nick Naumann.

Staskey can be reached at sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com