Jackson County has had a great presence in annual North South All-Star Classic

Mark Martin

This week in the Kanawha Valley, a trio of Ripley Vikings are going through workouts to prepare for this Saturday’s (June 19) annual WCHS-TV/FOX 11 North-South All-Star Football Classic.

Kadin Hall, Quinton Joyner and Matt Moore will all suit up for the red-clad South Cardinals. (Stories on the three appear in this Friday’s upcoming edition of The Jackson Star News).

The game is set for 12:06 p.m. at South Charleston High School’s Black Eagle Stadium. It will air live locally on WCHS-TV (ABC affiliate) and wchstv.com on the worldwide web. In addition, it will air live in the state’s Northern Panhandle on WTOV-TV.

The game was cancelled a year ago due to COVID-19.

The three Viking standouts of head coach Steve Sayre, their teammates and the North squad are all living and training on the campus of West Virginia State University in Institute.

State has been the host for the all-star camp since the game started back up in 1976.

Both former Ripley Vikings and Ravenswood Red Devils have made their presence known in the annual contest.

In that 1976 game, Ravenswood’s legendary head coach Fred Taylor was an assistant for the South. Two of his standouts — Bryan Canterbury and the late Gary Blair — were chosen for the game.

Fred Taylor, Ravenswood's coaching legend, was a 2-1 as a coach in North-South Classics.
Bryan Canterbury (51) was one of the first two players from Jackson County selected to the North-South Classic. He was part of the 1976 South squad before enjoying a great career at West Virginia State.
The late Gary Blair (83) was one of the first two players from Jackson County chosen for the North-South Classic. He was selected to the 1977 contest with teammate Bryan Canterbury and head coach Fred Taylor. He enjoyed success at the next level for Fairmont State.

Taylor would also return as an assistant the following year in 1977 for the South and then served as the winning head coach of the Cardinals in the 1988 Classic.

In 2011, Dick Sturm, then Ravenswood’s head coach and who served as an assistant to Taylor in the ’88 game, was picked to be the North head coach.

Dick Sturm, a long-time Ravenswood assistant and head coach, was a part of two North-South Classics. He was a South assistant in 1988 and the North head coach in 2010.

Three individuals, who once patrolled the sidelines as Ripley’s head coach, have guided teams in the game.

The late Frank Marino led the 1990 North squad and in 2010 one of his former players and assistants — Jimmy Frashier — was in charge of the North Bears.

The late Frank Marino, Ripley's football leader from 1977-2002, was the head coach for the North Bears in the 1990 contest. Marino's late son, Mickey, was the South quarterback in 1981.

Steve Stoffel Sr., who was Ripley’s head coach in 1975 and 1976, was the South head coach in 2008, though, when chosen he was guiding the football program of his alma mater Herbert Hoover.

The first Ripley Viking picked was Jerry Ocheltree, who was a part of the 1978 South team. He played for the late Steve Edwards Jr., who was the South head coach out of George Washington. The South staff included Corky Griffith, a one-time Ripley coach, who was then leading the way at old DuPont High and the late Fred Aldridge, who later served many years as Ravenswood High’s principal.

Butch Barnette was the second Viking to take part in the game, getting an invite in 1980.

Boob Lanham, who starred for the Vikings from 1976-78, was one of Stoffel’s assistants in the ’08 game and also coached in the 1993 game as an assistant to the late Ron Sirk of Clay County.

Ripley’s Steve Lough has been the North trainer since the 2008 game.

Ravenswood’s Ryan Ward (1994), Chip Donahoe (1997) and Ripley’s Jeff McCoy (2003) and Parker Deem (2006) have earned North MVP honors in the game.

Deem’s father, the late Jeff Deem, was a standout for the North team in 1980 before going on to enjoy a great career at WVU.

Mike Deem, an uncle to Jeff and great uncle to Parker, was one of Frank Marino’s assistants in the 1990 game.

Ripley has had three brother combinations chosen for the game: Mark (1988) and Brian (1993) Johnson, David (2012) and Daryl (2013) Hicks and Logan (2008) and Jake (2015) Martin.

When the game was restarted in 1976, Jackson County was a part of the South.

In 1990, Ravenswood and Ripley were shifted to the North. That was the year Marino was the head coach.

Marino's son, the late Mickey Marino, was the South quarterback in 1981. Marino’s son-in-law, former Ravenswood standout Jim Mahan, was a South captain in the 1979 contest.

In 2013, Ravenswood and Ripley returned to the South jurisdiction.

While the two Jackson County schools are a part of the South, Lough has remained with the North teams.

The North-South head coaches and their staffs select the players on recommendations from high school coaches around the state.

This year’s head coaches are Daran Hayes of North Marion, who will guide the North, and Ray Lee of Greenbrier East, who will lead the South.