Jackson County N-S Classic nuggets

Mark Martin
Jackson Newspapers

At first, the Friday Night Rivals (WCHS-TV/FOX 11) North-South All-Star Football Classic was scheduled to be played on Saturday, June 13.

COVID-19 forced the contest to be move into July. But a week ago, the July 16 date was also shelved and the Classic simply won’t happen this year.

Like all the other games and events in the local sports world that have been stopped this year, it’s certainly a shame there will be no North-South Football Classic in 2020.

Each year the annual contest showcases some of the state’s top graduating senior talent from the most recent high school football season in West Virginia.

The past two years the game has been televised live by WCHS-TV in Charleston.

Ravenswood’s Jacob Anthony, a Class A First Team All-State punter along with being an outstanding linebacker and punter, was set to be the latest player from the county to get a shot at playing in the game (see story elsewhere on sports pages).

Anthony had been selected as a member of the South squad.

While the show will not go on this year, the Classic has a rich history. Jackson Countians have been a big part of the N-S modern era’s past, which dates back to 1976.

And Ravenswood Red Devils and Ripley Vikings will continue to be involved in the future, starting with the Classic of 2021.

Here are some neat nuggets pertaining to Jackson County and the North-South Classic:

SHADES OF BLUE AND RED: When things started in 1976, Ravenswood and Ripley players were in the jurisdiction of the red-clad South Cardinals. In 1990, a revamping of team territories sent Jackson County’s two high schools into the district of the North Bears.

In 2012, Jackson County would return to the South.

LEADING THE WAY: Ravenswood coaching legend Fred Taylor was a part of the inaugural game back in 1976 as a South assistant coach. Two of Taylor’s senior standouts from his 1975 team – Gary Blair and Bryan Canterbury – were chosen for the game.

Taylor returned to be an assistant the following season in 1977 and again was accompanied by two of his top players from his 1976 Class AA state championship team in John McCoy and Jim Thompson.

Taylor was the head coach of the winning South team, which staged a huge comeback for the victory, in the contest of 1988.

-Taylor is one of two Ravenswood head coaches to lead teams in the game. Dick Sturm, who was one of Taylor’s assistants in the ’88 game, was the head coach of the North in 2011.

-Three one-time Ripley High head football coaches have worked the game as head coaches.

The late Frank Marino was the head coach in the year of 1990 when Jackson County shifted to the North.

Jimmy Frashier, who had previously been an assistant in the Classic, was the North head coach in 2010.

Steve Stoffel, Sr., who was Ripley’s head coach in the seasons of 1975 and 1976, was selected as the head coach for the South in 2008 when he was directing the football program at Herbert Hoover, his alma mater.

-Former Ripley football standout Henry (Boob) Lanham has been an assistant coach in the game on two different occasions.

Lanham was an assistant for the South of Ron Sirk, the late head coach at Clay County, in the 1993 Classic. He returned to assist his former head coach, Stoffel, Sr., in the 2011 contest. Lanham, a three-year starting lineman at Ripley and later a three-year starter at Glenville State College, played for Stoffel, Sr. his sophomore season at Ripley in 1976.

Lanham was working as a coach at Sissonville when he was chosen to be a part of the Classic.

THE FIRST VIKING: With two Classics in the book, Ripley finally had its first player chosen for the event in 1978. Jerry Ocheltree, a three-year standout quarterback for the Vikings, was picked to play for the South, who was guided by the late Steve Edwards, Sr. Ocheltree played defensive back and punted in the game. He recovered a key fumble in the contest for the winning South.

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: Fred Taylor’s son, Robbie, played for his father on the 1988 South Cardinal team.

Frank Marino’s late son, Mickey, quarterbacked the majority of the 1981 Classic for the South.

Steve Sturm, Dick’s son, was one of his father’s North assistants in 2011.

MVP’S: Each year the Classic picks a Most Valuable Player from the two teams and some Jackson County players have earned the prestigious honor at game’s end. Those include Ryan Ward (1995), Chip Donohoe (1996), Jeff McCoy (2003) and Parker Deem (2006).

TRAINING TABLE: Ripley High athletic director and head athletic trainer Steve Lough has been a part of the North-South Classic since 2008.

Lough has worked as one of the game’s head trainers and was set to do so again in the 2020 Classic.

While Jackson County players, and in this case more specifically Ripley Vikings, are now members of the South, Lough has always been with the North.

PLAYER/COACH: Luke Salmons is a member of a short list of individuals to play in the game and then later come back to be one of the team’s head coaches.

Salmons, a Class AA First Team All-Stater and winner of the Hunt Award as the state’s top lineman while at Ravenswood, was a member of the North Bears in 1999.

In 2015, Salmons, who has guided Cabell Midland High School’s football program to two appearances in the Class AAA state championship, was selected as head coach for the South

Revised history of Jackson County selections for North-South Classic:

2020 – (North) Ripley’s Steve Lough, (trainer), (South) Ravenswood’s Jacob Anthony (No game-COVID-19)

2019 - (North) Ripley's Steve Lough, (trainer), (South) Ripley's Andrew Dolan, (North wins, 8-6)

2018 – (North) Ripley’s Steve Lough, (trainer), (South) Ripley’s Jacob Casto, (North wins, 41-20)

2017 – (North) Ripley’s Steve Lough, (trainer), (North wins, 10-7)

2016 – (North) Ripley’s Steve Lough, (trainer), (North wins, 42-35)

2015-(South) Ravenswood’s Rhys Jelich and Ben Johnson, Ripley’s D.J. Cummings and Jake Martin, (North) Ripley’s Steve Lough, (trainer), (South wins, 7-0)

2014-(South) Ripley’s Kade Harrison, (North) Ripley’s Steve Lough (trainer), (South wins, 46-26)

2013-(South) Ripley’s Daryl Hicks, (North) Ripley’s Steve Lough (trainer), (South wins, 43-14)

2012-(North) Ravenswood’s Jeremy Lawrence and Ripley’s David Hicks, Ripley's Steve Lough (trainer), (South wins, 36-28 OT)

2011-(North) Ravenswood's Dick Sturm (head coach), Ravenswood’s Steve Sturm (assistant coach), Mark Davis, Chad Small, Cole Starcher Ripley's Correy Goff and Ripley’s Steve Lough (trainer) (South wins, 14-13)

2010-(North) Ripley's Jimmy Frashier (head coach), Ripley's David Heis, Ronnie Mullins, Scotty Ullom and Ravenswood's Tanner Hunter, Ripley’s Steve Lough (trainer), (South wins, 21-6)

2009-(North) Ripley’s Seth Parsons, Lonnie Kiser and Ravenswood’s Jake Young, Ripley’s Steve Lough (trainer), (North wins, 22-0)

2008-(North) Ripley’s Jimmy Frashier (assistant coach), Ripley’s Logan Martin and Logan Seabolt, Ripley’s Steve Lough (trainer), (South wins, 24-14)

2007-No Jackson County players selected, (South wins, 7-3)

2006-(North) Ravenswood’s William Workman and Ripley’s +Parker Deem, (South wins, 33-22)

2005-No Jackson County players selected, (North wins, 9-7)

2004-(North) Ravenswood’s Brett Greene and Brandon Smith, (North wins, 21-12)

2003-(North) Ripley’s Corey Isner, +Jeff McCoy, Ty Phalen and Ravenswood’s Caleb Lanning, (South wins, 25-20)

2002-(North) Ripley’s Brock Stotts, Broc Skeens and Ravenswood’s Ty Pistelli, (North wins, 39-12)

2001-(North) Ripley’s Jon Spencer, (North wins, 41-21)

2000-(North) Ripley’s Doy Nichols and Justin Southall, (North wins, 20-18)

1999-(North) Ripley’s Justin Johnson, Adam King and Ravenswood’s Luke Salmons, (North wins, 19-8)

1998-(North) Ripley’s Eddie Smolder, (South wins, 26-0)

1997-(North) Ravenswood’s +Chip Donohoe and Davey Hood, Ripley’s Lance Morrison and Ben Parsons, (North wins, 14-13)

1996-(North) Ravenswood’s Eric King and +Ryan Ward, (South wins, 19-2)

1995-(North) Ravenswood’s Matt Moresea, (South wins, 24-0)

1994-(North) Ravenswood’s Greg Archer and Ripley’s Richard Holley, (South wins, 28-0)

1993-(North) Ravenswood’s Pat Akers and Ripley’s Brian Johnson, (North wins, 20-14)

1992-(North) Ripley’s Kenny Skeen, (South won, 30-16)

1991-(North) Ravenswood’s Eddie Gould and Ripley’s Brandon Landis, (North won, 14-7)

1990-(North) Ripley’s Frank Marino (head coach), Mike Deem (assistant coach), James Kay and Chris Martin, Ravenswood’s Kevin Copley and Scott Dale, (South wins, 20-14)

1989-No Jackson County players, (South wins, 20-12)

1988-(South) Ravenswood’s Fred Taylor (head coach), Dick Sturm (assistant coach), Jeff Corder and Robbie Taylor, Ripley’s Mark Johnson and Nathan Nelson, (South wins, 35-24)

1987-(South) Ravenswood’s Bruce Coiner and Ripley’s Rod Lanham, (South wins, 10-7)

1986-(South) Ripley’s Dean Parsons, (South wins, 39-0)

1985-(South) Ravenswood’s Paul Fletcher and Bunky Seaver, Ripley’s Daniel Winters, (South wins, 34-18)

1984-(South) Ripley’s Brian Hussell, (South wins, 14-13 OT)

1983-(South) Ripley’s Brad Hunt and Scott Walters, (North wins, 19-14)

1982-(South) Ripley’s Dewayne Merritt, (North wins, 29-12)

1981-(South) Ripley’s Mickey Marino, (South won, 7-3)

1980-(South) Ravenswood’s John Adkins and Ripley’s Butch Barnette, (North wins, 23-0)

1979-(South) Ravenswood’s Jim Mahan and Doug Ritchie, (South wins, 15-8)

1978-(South) Ripley’s Jerry Ocheltree, (South wins, 14-9)

1977-(South) Ravenswood’s Fred Taylor (assistant coach), John McCoy and Jim Thompson, (South wins, 23-6)

1976-(South) Ravenswood’s Fred Taylor (assistant coach), Gary Blair and Bryan Canterbury (North wins, 8-6)

+-North team Most Valuable Player