Linsly products relish one last football game
BETHANY — COVID made football’s regular season stressful for both players and coaches.
Would there be practice? Would there be games? It was all up in the air.
Now the coaching staff from Linsly and five talented Cadet players are getting one more shot to simply enjoy the week and one more game together, without fear of the unknown.
Linsly head coach B.J. Depew and his staff are coaching the West Virginia All-Stars this week and Saturday night in the 75th OVAC Rudy Mumley All-Star Football Game at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Along with his coaching staff, Depew brings quarterback Hunter Kelley, Kobe Hill (WR/DB), Steven Felton (FB/LB), Marco Aprea (OL/DE) and Joao Lima (K/P) to the team and all of them are looking forward to the experience.
“The way the season went, we had a couple of games taken away because of COVID, so just to be able to strap up again, play with everyone again and some dudes that we played against throughout the season is pretty nice,” Lima said. “In preseason we were talking and we weren’t sure if we would even get our first game in but we showed up every week and Coach Depew said to just enjoy it because we weren’t sure what was going to happen. That drove us all year.”
It was that style of coaching that motivated the Cadets to a 6-3 record and Depew’s players are honored to share the field and sideline with him one more time.
“He is really big on tradition,” Felton said. “So, it’s nice that he is bringing the mentality of our team here to all of these other schools.”
This is Depew’s third time coaching in the OVAC All-Star Game and he couldn’t ask for a better group to take the field with on Saturday night.
“It’s fantastic for these guys to have this opportunity,” Depew said. “To share it with them is really special. We have five really good football players and it’s a special group. I’m thrilled we are all here together.”
For Hill and Kelley, who connected this year 46 times for 578 yards and six touchdowns, it’s a storybook ending that started back in grade school.
“If I could have one last game with anybody, it would be these guys,” Hill said. “They’ve been there for me since I’ve been at Linsly and they’ve always been my biggest fans. Being able to play for them one last time and give them all I have is a great feeling and I can’t wait to do that Saturday.”
Kelley echoed the thoughts of his top target.
“It means a lot and it’s going to be fun just being around all the guys I played with through my high school career and the guys I grew up with,” he said.
Not only will the Cadets get the chance to share the field together one final time, but Aprea is eagerly waiting for the moment the players take the field for the first time.
After a season with hardly any fans, the bleachers will be packed on Saturday night and, like it should be, the spotlight will shine on the stars.
“I’m looking forward to having everybody there,” Aprea said. “Especially since COVID stopped people from going to games. Having the entire valley there and the energy the crowd brings to the game — that will be very special.”