The annual all-star game pits the top graduated senior players from southern West Virginia against those from eastern Kentucky and is considered the unofficial kickoff to the prep football season.
Leading the Kentucky All-Stars is former Belfry and Matewan high school player David Jones, who went on to start in the University of Kentucky secondary. This spring, Jones played for the Eastern Kentucky Drillers professional indoor team of the Ultimate Indoor Football League.
Coaching the West Virginia All-Stars is Gilbert native and Riverview High School coach Gehrig Justice.
Five players from Man High School have been chosen to play in the game. They are: Zach Underwood (OL/DL); Cody Owens (TE/LB); Derek Lomax (RB/LB); Chris Toler (OL/DL); and Cody Frye (OL/LB).
Seven players from Chapmanville Regional High School were picked to play. They are: Jake Robinson (RB/LB); Josh Easterling (QB/DB); Jacob Browning (OL/DL); Brandon Ferguson (RB/LB); Brad Parsons (WR/DB); Zach Thompson (WR/DB); and Zach Maynard (WR/DB).
Logan High School is represented by four players: Andrew Reynolds (OL/DL); Jason Spurlock (WR/DB); Gary Miller (OL/DL/K); and Seth Thatcher (OL/DL).
Robinson played in last week’s North-South All-Star Football Classic at Charleston’s Laidley Field. Robinson, a 2,000-yard rusher from a year ago for Chapmanville, had 54 yards rushing and a touchdown and helped lead the South to a 14-12 victory over the North.
Only a handful of Man players took part in last year’s Senior Bowl as no gridders from Logan or Chapmanville signed up for the game.
The West Virginia All-Stars won last year’s contest 20-0 and lead the all-time series 10-5 over Kentucky.
The Mountain State team has recorded wins in the last seven Senior Bowls dating back to 2004. The last win by the Bluegrass State team was a 40-36 victory in 2003.
The Hatfield-McCoy Bowl debuted in 1996 and is the brainchild of current Mingo Central High School football coach Danny “Yogi” Kinder.
Its name comes from the infamous feud along the state border.
The Senior Bowl’s predecessor was the Kiwanis Bowl, which was played at Williamson’s Lefty Hamilton Park and had its roots dating back to the 1950s.
The Hatfield-McCoy Bowl gives high school seniors a chance to play one last football game.
The vast majority of the players on either team are suiting up for the final time. However, for a lucky few this game offers the chance to be seen by college scouts. There have been a handful of scholarships in the past awarded by college coaches who have seen players take part in the game.
A number of players from other West Virginia high schools have also been chosen to play in the game.
From Wyoming East, Derek Sesco (QB/DB) and Andrew Bishop (RB/LB) have been picked.
Gilbert High School, which played its final season of football last fall before consolidation in Mingo County, is represented by three players, including: Josh Johnson (WR/DB); Ryan Altizer (WR/DE); and Wes Lester (TE/LB).
Coach Justice has signed up six players from Riverview, a second-year consolidated school made up of the former Iaeger and Big Creek high schools in McDowell County. Those players are: Cody Underwood (QB/DB); David Hopkins (OL/LB); Justin Kidwell (RB/DB); Joel Thomas (RB/DL); Josh Blankenship (TE/LB); and Cody Jackson (WR/DE).
Tug Valley High School is represented by running back Austin Vance, who had 3,000 all-purpose yards for the playoff-bound Panthers a year ago.
From Matewan are: Justin Bradford (RB/LB); Cody Centers (QB/DB); Grant Charles (OL/DL); and John Bailey (OL/LB).
Wayne High School has one player picked to play in lineman J.T. Harmon.
A total of 26 players from Kentucky have been chosen to play for the Bluegrass State all-stars.
Eleven of Kentucky’s players hail from state runner-up Belfry, including: Cameron Tackett; Garrett Francis; James Hardin; Jeffree Pruitt, Josh Francis; Micah Mahon; Morgan Bentley; Nathan Carroll; Preston Young; and Steven Gibbs.
Gridders from Allen Central, Bell County, Betsy Layne, East Ridge, Johnson Central, Phelps, Pikeville, Prestonsburg and Sheldon Clark high schools in Kentucky were also picked.
The Hatfield-McCoy Bowl was sponsored by Massey Energy from 1996-2010. But with Massey’s recent merger into the new Alpha Natural Resources consortium, the Senior Bowl is still looking for a new sponsor.
The game will mark the final high school event for athletes from the former Matewan, Gilbert, Williamson and Burch high schools as the four schools have closed and have consolidated into the new Mingo Central High School at Red Jacket.
No players from Williamson or Burch, however, have signed up.
— Pamela Scott Johnson of the Williamson Daily News contributed to this report.