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Paul Adkins

NASSAU, Bahamas - It took years but I finally took Ted Ellis' advice.

Years ago at a basketball game I had talked to Ellis, the legendary former Chapmanville High School baseball coach and member of the Coaches Hall of Fame, upon his return from a cruise to Jamaica.

"Do yourself a favor," Ellis said. "Go take a cruise. You'll like it."

Last week, I took a trip of a lifetime with my girlfriend Lori, a cruise to The Bahamas.

I didn't actually like it. I loved it. I'm totally hooked.

I loved it so much I contemplated staying there.

No, not really, but it did cross my mind.

The scenery was remarkable and breathtaking.

The sights I saw - the sparkling blue-green water, sunsets over the ocean and beautiful pristine sandy beaches lined with palm trees - is something that I will never forget. Never had I been to anywhere "tropical." It was hot and muggy but so is West Virginia this time of the year.

It was probably the most relaxing and most needed vacation that I've ever had and having Lori at my side made it even better.

Coach Ellis, you were certainly right.

I'm glad that I finally took your advice and went on that cruise.

It will not be my last one either.

My girlfriend has now been on nine cruises, and now I know why. It's a true relaxing vacation. Don't have to drive anywhere once on board. Don't have to fight the traffic. Don't have to stand in line for an overrated amusement park ride. Just pure enjoyment.

Some people say it's a small world and after I went on this trip I really believe that.

There were even a few folks from Logan County that I know who were on the ship.

Out of 3,000 people on board it was by pure chance that I bumped into them. I was quite surprised when I saw them. I enjoyed talking to them though. Ran into one of them in the hallway leading to the casino. Ran into the other Logan Countian at the onboard comedy club and later talked with her on deck in the pool.

On to sports now.

The Bahamas is also a perfect place for golf with year round warm tropical weather.

On a ferry boat ride over to a private island, the tour guide pointed left and said this is a home that is owned by Tiger Woods.

In Woods' backyard is the edge of a golf course.

How cool is that?

He could literally walk out his back door, grab some golf clubs and tee off.

Amazing, and convenient too.

We also went by a home in the Nassau area owned by Michael Jordan.

He uses the above mentioned golf course for a yearly celebrity golf tournament.

Very cool.

Football and the Bahamas don't seem synonymous but there is the Bahamas Bowl, which has been played yearly since 2014 at Nassau's 15,000-seat Thomas Robinson Stadium. Our boat went right by there with the world famous Atlantis Resort on the other side.

The Bahamas Bowl pits teams from Marshall's Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference.

The Herd has yet to play in the bowl game, however, as five different MAC and C-USA teams have been participants up until this point.

So far, Western Kentucky, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion, UAB and FIU have played in the bowl game from Conference USA. Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Ohio and Toledo have been the Bahamas Bowl representatives from the MAC.

Depending on how the Thundering Herd's season goes, look for the trend to continue, as the bowl will look for two new MAC and C-USA teams to play in this year's game, set for December 20. That increases Marshall's chances.

The bowl game has its drawbacks, however.

The game has a low payout, only $450,000 per team.

It's an expensive place to get to and football players, staff and fans need a passport, of course, since it is out of the country.

The bowl has been poorly attended. The "official" attendance of each of the Bahamas Bowl game has been more than 13,000. No way. More like 2,000.

But hey, it's the Bahamas.

Setting-wise, you can't beat that.

It's 80 degress in December and the teams love to stay at Atlantis and swim with the dolphins.

It's a once-of-a-lifetime and life-enriching experience for these young men.

The Bahamas Bowl game was first played in 2014 and was the first international bowl game outside of North America since the 1937 Bacardi Bowl in Havana, Cuba.

In inaugural bowl game was a memorable one as the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers of Conference USA played the Central Michigan Chippewas, my alma mater, out of the MAC.

WKU led comfortably, 49-14, with only 10 minutes to go in the game but had to withstand a furious Central Michigan comeback.

The Chippewas erupted for an amazing 34 points in the fourth quarter but came up short in a 49-48 loss.

The game was made famous by an improbable 70-yard, three-lateral hail mary pass by CMU quarterback Cooper Rush, now Dak Prescott's backup quartback with the Dallas Cowboys.

Down 49-42 with only one second left, CMU had the ball on its own 30-yard line.

Then the miracle happened.

Rush connected on a deep pass to Jesse Kroll. Three laterals later, a diving Titus Davis raced to the pylon and scored a touchdown on the amazing play. It was later nominated for an ESPY as the top play of the year in 2014 but was beat out by the one-handed catch by New York Giants' wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. against the Cowboys.

The Chippewas went for two and the win but a fade pass was knocked down an the Hilltoppers escaped.

Oddly enough, I ran into some WKU football fans on the ship last week.

I told them where I graduated from.

Immediately, the man talked about the 2014 Bahamas Bowl and that crazy ending.

Rush would later strike again two years later, connecting on a similar Hail Mary/lateral prayer, in Central Michigan's 30-27 win at Big 12 team Oklahoma State. Kroll was again the initial recipient of that pass.

Both plays went rival on YouTube very quickly.

GRID SEASON IS NEAR: In just a month's time all three Logan County football teams will begin practice as the Hillbillies, Wildcats and Tigers will be hitting the gridiron.

All three teams finished up their three-week June summer practice period last week.

Chapmanville closed it out by taking part in a 7-on-7 at WVU.

Logan opens the season August 30 at Man. Chapmanville begins the season a day before, on a Thursday, as the Tigers play Sissonville at Charleston's Laidley Field.

Man had the best record in the county last year at 6-4.

With many of its top players coming back, including a bunch of skilled position players such as QB Caleb Milton and WR Sam Milton, I look for the Billies to at least match, or even exceed last year's win total.

Logan went 4-6 last year in a rebuilding season but the Wildcats also look to be much improved, especially in the trenches. I expect Logan to win more games this season.

Chapmanville was 5-5 last season but lost a bunch of its skilled position guys from last year so the Tigers have some work to do.

The upcoming 2019 season should be a good one, area football fans.

Paul Adkins is the sports editor of the Logan Banner. Follow him on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner or email him at padkins@hdmediallc.com.

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