North-South football game is shelved

Mark Martin
Jackson Newspapers

Another event that has become a staple during the out-of-school portion of the sports calendar is off the table for this year.

The annual Friday Night Rivals (WCHS-TV/WVAH-TV) North-South All-Star Football Classic, conducted by the West Virginia Schools Athletic Coaches Association, will not be played in July. The game was officially cancelled on Wednesday.

This year's Classic had first been slated for June 13 but was rescheduled to July 10 due to COVID-19.

Ravenswood football standout Jacob Anthony had been selected to play in the prestigious all-star event, which features 72 of the top graduating senior football players in the Mountain State each year.

Anthony was set to add his name to a long list of past Ravenswood Red Devil and Ripley Viking standouts (see list elsewhere on sports pages) who have played in the game as a member of the South Cardinal squad, which was going to be led by Greenbrier East head coach Ray Lee.

The North Bears head coach was to be Daran Hayes of North Marion.

The North-South football showdown started back in 1934 and ran until 1955. The event was stopped because NCAA sanctions forbid all-star games such as the North-South from being staged.

In 1976, through a collective effort of what was then known as the West Virginia Coaches Association and the Charleston Lions Club, the North-South All-Star Football Classic was reborn and has been going strong ever since.

A media release by the WVSACA stated:

“It is with deep regret that after a thorough review of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Executive Committee of the WVSACA has decided to cancel the 2020 Friday Night Rivals (WCHS-TV/WVAH-TV) North-South Football Classic. We simply must put the health and safety of everyone involved ahead of our desire to host this very special event. This decision was made after consultation with many different governmental agencies and our legal representation.

"The Executive Committee would like to recognize the tireless efforts of North-South Football Game Director Bob Mullett. He works every day exploring ways to have this game and provide a special experience for the players.

"Due to the pandemic, we would have to make several logistical changes to our North-South Football week. This includes, but is not limited to, changing the housing venue, changing meal services, practice locations, and special team-building activities throughout the week.

"We extend our thoughts to the players selected, both coaching staffs, and other professionals involved in the game. This has been a very difficult spring for West Virginia’s student-athletes who have had to miss out on so many special events.

"We will be presenting the players with their practice jersey, courtesy of the West Virginia State Police, along with their game jersey, and a North-South Player certificate.

"The Executive Committee of the WVSACA looks forward to having the North-South Football Classic in June 2021.”

"The Executive Committee of the WVSACA consists of Jodi Mote, Ross Robinson, Jamie Tallman, Ralph Hensley, Daran Hays, Wes Eddy, Charles Maynard, Brad Dingess, John Kelley, Mark Montgomery, Justin Hensley, and Mullett.

In other all-star related news, the annual West Virginia Athletic Directors Association North-South All-Star Basketball Classic has also been halted. It was scheduled for either July 10 or July 11.