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MARTINS FERRY -- The venue is set. And now the rosters are set.
It's full steam ahead, at this point, for the 72nd annual OVAC Rudy Mumley All-Star Charity Football Classic, which will kick off at 7:15 p.m. on Saturday, July 22 at Martins Ferry's Dave Bruney Football Complex.
Barring late scratches and/or changes, both Ohio head coach Karl Justus and West Virginia head coach John Durdines have finalized their rosters and are now awaiting the opening of the week-long camp, which will be held once again at Bethany College, starting on July 15.
DURDINES earned the right to guide the Mountain State for the first time in his career after his Bishop Donahue squad finished 6-4 and won the Class 1A conference title. Though he knew it was the small-school Class A turn to coach, he didn't realize at the end of last season that it would be the final time he represents the Bishops.
The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston opted to close the school at the end of the recently completed academic year.
"Anytime you get to coach in this game it's a huge honor, but it definitely has more meaning for me and my staff because it turns out that it will be our last game together and representing Bishop Donahue," Durdines said. "We earned this by winning the OVAC, which I like most about it."
As a competitor, Durdines has never stepped foot on a football field not wanting to win.
Next month's clash will be no different, but he admits that there are "a few more logs on the fire' of motivation.
"Bishop Donahue gave me an opportunity and it's a shame what has happened and how cowardly it happened," Durdines said. "I owe everything I am to Bishop Donahue. They gave me a chance and it really upsets me for the kids. I know the kids will heal and move on, but I also know how sad and upset they are.
"So, I do have extra fuel for this game."
Durdines will get to coach three of his own players one more time, too. Jimmy Hull, J.C. Custer and Trey Miller will don their B.D. helmet one more time.
"It's great that we get to share (this game) with three of our own guys," Durdines said. "And the three kids we chose deserve to be on this team, regardless of who is coaching."
Donahue isn't the only school being represented in the game for the last time. Tyler Consolidated has withdrawn from the OVAC for the coming school year, so Tyler Anderson and Jace Reed will represent the Silver Knights in their final soiree.
Weir led the Mountain State roster with five selections. Wheeling Park, Wheeling Central, Parkersburg South and University join B.D. with a trio of players.
"Choosing the roster is unbelievably tough," Durdines said. "There are so many good kids who you can't take. And you have to play a game, so you can't just take 32 players. We have kids who excelled on their teams, but there's just so much talent. We're very excited with the kids we have.'
JUSTUS was the head coach at Conotton Valley last season and by virtue of being the highest-finishing Ohio school in Class 1A, earned the right to guide the Buckeye State. It's his first all-star game assignment.
He won't be returning to the Rockets' sideline, however. He's accepted a position as an assistant coach at Hocking College, which just started football two years ago.
Before he shifted his focus to the collegiate level, he spent a lot of time looking at prep film to gauge which players to select for this summer's game.
"Finding players wasn't tough," Justus said. "Eliminating players was the toughest part. With so many good players in the Ohio Valley, narrowing it down to 32 players makes it really challenging."
Justus represented 18 schools with his selections and only one school (East Liverpool) received more than three bids. Other schools with three players chosen were River, Buckeye Trail, Toronto and Steubenville. The OVAC limits a school to three picks, but the Potters received a fourth because the kicker doesn't count toward the maximum numbers.
Normally coaching the game is a way to honor some of your seniors. However, the Rockets have nary a player on the roster, but Justus pointed out one was chosen and elected not to play.
"We had four or five kids back out for one reason or another, so that got some other kids some opportunities," Justus, who formerly coached at Buckeye Local, said.
"Some of the guys we took because someone else backed out might end up being better than the original selection."
The Ohio coaching staff is a mixture of schools, too. Justus has coaches from as far away as Lancaster on the staff. He also has a representative of Bridgeport, Buckeye Local and several from East Liverpool.
The complete rosters are as follows:
Terry Adkins, Beaver Local; Jesse Ball, Harrison Central; Zach Bigelow, St. Clairsville; Garth Charlton, Cambridge; Robert Coppa, Indian Creek; Ben Davis, Toronto; Jack Davis, Martins Ferry; Trey Elerick, St. Clairsville; Zack Gill, East Liverpool; Jarett Hooper, Monroe Central; Justyn Keyser, Bellaire; Dylan Kidder, East Liverpool; Mason Ladyga, River; Casey Lewis, Fort Frye; William Lowe, Cambridge; Luke Matusik, River; Austin Mayfield, East Liverpool; Jalen McGee, Steubenville; Donnie Meadows, Shadyside; Sean Millard, Buckeye Local; Drone Moore, Steubenville; Freddie Plum, East Liverpool; Troy Pontius, Buckeye Trail; Konnor Roberts, Meadowbrook; Sam Robinson, Indian Creek; Cody Saksa, River; Carter Streiff, Buckeye Trail; Brenton Stull, Harrison Central; Max Tice, Toronto; Dom Wallace, Martins Ferry; Kyle Wilson, Buckeye Trail; Danny Zdinak, Toronto; Zane Zimish, Steubenville
Jordan Allen, Weir; Tyler Anderson, Tyler; Dylan Baker, Wheeling Central; Hayden Berry, Wheeling Park; John Burkhalter, Wheeling Central; Dante Carlier, Morgantown; J.C. Custer, Bishop Donahue; Alex Edgell, Brooke; Cody Enrietti, Weir; Brant Freeland, South; Adam Frisco, University; Gage Giovengo, Linsly; Brandon Hall, South; Hayden Hizer, Paden City; Jimmy Hull, Bishop Donahue; Lander James, Cameron; Jacob Kerekes, John Marshall; Logan Kranis, Oak Glen; Travis Lowther, Weir; Zack Martin, University; Michael Meaige, Wheeling Park; Trey Miller, Bishop Donahue; Michael Mills, Weir; Jacob Murray, Linsly; Peyton Powroznik, University; Jack Raitz, South; Jace Reed, Tyler; Isaac Rine, Wheeling Central; Donovan Spencer, Weir; Michael Starcher, Cameron; Chase Street, Magnolia; Zach Torbett, Wheeling Park; Chris Yachini, Brooke.