The 2013 WCHS-TV/FOX 11 North-South All-Star Football Classic is in the books and give Jackson County another victory.
Saturday night Ripley's Daryl Hicks suited up for the winning South Cardinals. Hicks was the defensive star on the night for the Cardinals with seven tackles.
Jackson County returned to the South in 2013 after being a part of the North since 1990. When the game started back up in 1976 (after being on hiatus since 1955), Ravenswood and Ripley were in the South's jurisdiction. Both Jackson and Mason counties were moved back to the South this year to even out the number of schools for the two squads.
This year's classic marked the 37th since its return to the Mountain State sports scene in the bicentennial year. The game was played from 1934-55 before a ban was put on all-star contests around the country.
With Hicks being a part of the victorious South, Jackson County players have now been on 18 winning teams while 16 have dealt with defeat. There were three years (1989, 2005 and 2007) that Jackson County didn't have a selection.
Since Jackson Countians have played for both squads, here is how the won-loss records break down: Jackson County South Cardinal players are 9-4. Jackson County North Bear participants are 9-12.
The South has now won four in a row. The North's longest streak is four (1999-2002). The South owns the best overall string of wins at seven (1984-1990). The overall series dating back to 1934 favors the South at 35-18 with three ties.
HALL OF FAME: The West Virginia Coaches Association, which puts on the N-S Classic each year, inducted three more into its Hall of Fame. One of the inductees was the late Gary Barnette. A product of Dunbar High School, Barnette, who won 197 games during his career at South Harrison High, was the head coach of the North team in 1989. Barnette played college football at WVU. Barnette has many relatives living in Jackson County.
The other two were Mt. Hope High School's Lonnie Warwick and Stonewall Jackson High School's Hoppy Shores. Warwick was a 1960 grad at MHHS and therefore played during a time when the N-S Classic didn't exist. He was honored, though, for his years of service in football, including 13 as a fearless NFL linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings. Shores was the 1949 Kennedy Award winner as the state's best football player. He played in the 1950 N-S Classic before going on to enjoy a phenomenal track and cross country career at WVU.
SALMONS HONORED: The Coaches Association honored its Coaches of the Year at halftime. Ravenswood High graduate Luke Salmons was the Football Coach of the Year. Salmons, who represented Ravenswood on the winning North team in the 1999 game, led Cabell Midland to a Class AAA runner-up finish last season.
LOUGH DOWN: The lone serious injury of the night was handled by Ripley High athletic trainer Steve Lough. Serving once again as the trainer for the North squad, Lough was the man in charge when lineman Devan Collins of Elkins went down with a leg injury that halted play for several minutes. The young man did return to the sideline on crutches to catch the game's finish.
MISSING PLAYERS: Yet again both coaching staffs got hit with selected players not showing for the week of training camp. Each year I find myself in disbelief that a young man would miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I become even more perplexed that they wait until it is time for camp to announce they aren't coming.
The players are notified in early April that they have been one of the 74 (37 per team) chosen. They take care of all the paper work only to pull the plug at the last minute. Two of those who didn't show this year on the South side hailed from Midland Trail. What makes their absence so astonishing is the fact the school's head coach, Joe Dean, was in charge of the South squad in 2013. You could tell Dean was bewildered and embarrassed by the action of his own players.
Players were slated to arrive on Sunday to West Virginia State for training camp. North head coach Jodi Mote got a call from one player on Friday night to say he wasn't coming. He had another player leave camp on Wednesday. The reason? "I'm not having fun."
Actions such as these are simply selfish. Each team was left with 34 players. Which means there were six young men somewhere around the state who could have been chosen instead. One that comes to mind is Ravenswood's Brad Titus. It was my opinion all along that Titus should have been picked from the start.
Here's hoping the Coaches Association can figure out a plan to keep this from happening each year. It's the lone negative to an otherwise wonderful event. An event that those who have chosen to take part in will remember for the rest of their lives...just ask Ripley's Daryl Hicks and all the others from Jackson County who were a part of past N-S Classics.
On the Mark: North South notebook