There will be only one West Virginia All-Star team.
Logan County gridders make up 14 of the West Virginia All-Star team’s 31 total players for Saturday night’s Hatfield-McCoy Senior Bowl and all are happy to be on the same team.
The locals hope to lead West Virginia to a sixth straight win over the Kentucky All-Stars in the 14th-annual event, scheduled for 8 p.m. at Matewan High School’s Tiger Stadium.
West Virginia leads the all-time series 8-5 and the Mountain State squad is confident it can come away with another victory.
The Hatfield-McCoy Senior Bowl pits the top graduated seniors from eastern Kentucky’s mountain counties against those from the southern West Virginia coal fields.
For many of the gridders it’s the last time they will strap it on and knock heads.
All of the Logan County players are glad for once they won’t be knocking heads against each other.
“It’s weird being on the same team because we are rivals,” said Logan High School’s Derrick Perrin, a 6-foot, 185-pound senior, who quarterbacked the Wildcats last fall when starter David Brown went down early in the season with a broken arm. “Us, Chapmanville and Man are rivals and during the week when you play them you pretty much hate them but after that you are friends again.”
Perrin, along with Chapmanville Regional High School’s Joey Stevens and speedy David Wiley and Man High School’s Khris Tolliver will be counted on heavily in the West Virginia All-Star team’s offensive scheme.
Wiley and Stevens were Chapmanville’s backfield tandem last fall, while Tolliver rushed for more than 2,000 yards and led the Hillbillies to an 8-4 record and Class A first-round playoff victory at Mount Hope. Chapmanville was 8-3 and lost in the first round of the Class AA playoffs at home to James Monroe.
“Wiley and Stevens were pretty much the best players at Chapmanville, Khris was the best player on his team and I was one of the leaders on my team but now we are all together and you see how everyone practices,” Perrin said. “We’ve got a lot of speed in the backfield. Everyone back there can run under 4.6. When I was quarterbacking at Logan in the Wildcat (formation) if we had Wiley, Stevens and Tolliver we could have went a long way.”
Perrin said West Virginia should be able to beat Kentucky again.
“You always go into a game confident,” he said. “This game is going to be fun but it’s going to be business. We might blow them out for real. You’ve got to have that kind of confidence. But if we win or lose everyone’s had fun playing football during these practices. It’s been a long time since the regular season but nobody really looked rusty.”
Stevens, a 6-3, 210-pound running back and defensive back, said it has taken some getting used to being on the same team as players from Logan and Man but the experience has been a good one.
“It’s a little different playing with rivals that you have played over the years but we’re on the same team now and there’s no animosity,” he said. “West Virginia has had the upper hand lately in this bowl game and we have a lot of talent. We’ve got a good shot and I think that we’ll win it.”
Wiley, a 5-8, 170-pound running back and defensive back, entertained Chapmanville fans the last four years in the Tiger backfield. He went on to claim the Class AA 100-meter track title last May with a time of 10.98. Wiley has already signed on to play collegiate football at Division II Concord of the WVIAC.
“I think this game has been a whole lot of fun. It has been a lot of fun practicing,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to train and work out with these guys. After this I go to Concord and I’ll have to prove myself to the coaches. I will probably start on the special teams and hopefully I can move my way up.”
Chapmanville will also be represented in the all-star game by Brandon Savage, a 6-4, 285-pound lineman. Guys like Tolliver, Perrin, Stevens and Wiley hope he will be able to clear some holes to run through. Savage will be playing collegiately as well as he has signed on with West Virginia State.
“I can’t wait to beat Kentucky,” Savage said.
Savage also said it’s been a good experience to play on the same team with former rivals.
“During the season we don’t like each other but up here we’ve all gotten along good with each other,” he said.
Savage said the West Virginia team is a good one.
“The quarterback from Matewan (Josh Sammons) is good. I’d say if we had this team all together we could have won the state championship,” he said.
The speedy Tolliver said he’s looking forward to Saturday night’s game and being on the same team with former rivals from Logan and Chapmanville.
“It’s been a little bit strange playing on the same team with these guys. Hopefully it won’t be raining on Saturday night and we can just come out with a win,” he said. “We need a dry field, that’s for sure. It would have been nice to have this backfield during the regular season.”
Tolliver said the West Virginia team has a good shot at winning the Senior Bowl once again.
“All of the Logan County people have been talking at practice and we don’t see Kentucky standing in our way at all. We’re ready,” he said.
Tolliver said football is in his future as he will be playing at NAIA Pikeville College in Pikeville, Ky.
“I’ll be redshirting this year,” Tolliver said. “They told me that they don’t have a whole lot of depth in the backfield. I might not get any time this year but, hopefully, next year I will.”
Other players from Chapmanville signed up to play in the game are: Chris Davis (WR/DB); Zack Belcher (TE/LB); and Derek Basadre (OL/LB).
Other players from Man are: Cody Eplin (OL/DL); Cody Harvey (TE/DE); and David Johnson (OL/MLB).
Logan’s Sammy Pansera (FB/LB), Josh Wilson (K/P/RB/DB) and Bobby Hager (OL/DL) are also on the roster.
Nine players from hometown Matewan are in the game, including quarterback Josh Sammons, who will most likely start under center. Other Matewan Tigers include: Steven Justice (WR/DB); Joey Fields (TE/OL/DE); Roger Slone (FB/DB/LB); Tyler Jones (OL/DL); Max Whitt (WR/DB); Colton Copley (WR/LB/DB); Justin Davis (RB/DB); and David Slone (OL/DL/LB).
Representing the Iaeger Cubs are Dustin Bishop (QB/DB) and Jared Roberts (FB/DE/K).
Gilbert has Ryan Justice (OL/DE) on the team.
Westside’s lone player in the game is 6-7, 330-pound lineman Mickey Endicott.
Sherman has one player in Jeff Elian, a 6-1, 185-pound wide receiver and linebacker.
From Tug Valley is William Ellis, a 6-2, 220-pound lineman.
Williamson High School’s lone rep is Michael Davison, a 5-10, 200-pound wide receiver and defensive back.
Wayne has Ben Fry, a 5-9, 190-pound lineman on the team.
No players from Tolsia, Wyoming East, Burch or Scott have signed up for the game.
West Virginia All-Star head coach John Frye, a Matewan High School assistant coach under Yogi Kinder, said he likes his team’s speed in the backfield.
“This is the most speed that we’ve had that I can remember,” Frye said.
The West Virginia All-Star team is hoping to have dry field conditions for Saturday night’s game.
It rained on Wednesday and Thursday in the Matewan area and more rain was called for on Friday. Saturday’s forecast looks good, however, with partly sunny skies and temperatures in the 80s. It remains to be seen, though, if the Tiger Stadium grass will be able to dry out in enough time to give West Virginia’s skilled position players a shot at running on a fast track.
Frye said his offensive and defensive lines are looking good.
“We’ve got Brandon Savage from Chapmanville, Ryan Justice from Gilbert, Cody Eplin and David Johnson from Man, a couple guys from Matewan and big Bobby Hager from Logan. They are all pretty equal,” he said. “They are all battling but they are all going to get plenty of time because they are all good. My tight ends I’ve got Joey Fields from Matewan and Cody Harvey from Man.”
The opposing Kentucky All-Star team will be coached by Jesse Peck of Phelps High School.
Butch Joplin, the current head coach at Burch, coached the Kentucky team the last three years.
Kentucky hasn’t won a Hatfield-McCoy Bowl since 2003 when it prevailed in a 40-36 shootout.