About this time of year many in West Virginia begin jonesing for football.
A tip: You can get a fix this Saturday at UC Stadium at Laidley Field. At 7 p.m., the 59th North-South Classic will be held in Charleston.
Here’s another tip: If you’re a college scout, you might wander over there as well.
Yes, most of the players worthy of scholarships have already signed letters of intent. Yet there are extenuating circumstances.
For instance, at Tuesday’s media day at West Virginia State, where practices are hosted, this question was posed to those in the know: Who is the best player on the all-star rosters?
On the South, fingers were pointed at Huntington’s Nick Tubbs, a 6-foot, 170-pound receiver-defensive back — with no signed deal. Yet.
George Washington’s Draven Riffe, who will probably start at running back for the South, called Tubbs both “great” and “quick.”
“I glad he’s on our team,” Riffe said.
Greenbrier East’s Isaiah Kinder, the South’s probable starting quarterback and a William & Mary signee, predicted a pass-heavy Cardinal team offense, partially because of Tubbs.
“We’ve got some really good receivers, like Nick,” Kinder said. “We’re hooking up pretty good in practice, so hopefully we’ll take that into the game. When [Tubbs] gets one-on-one it’s a touchdown every time.”
Maybe, just maybe, Marshall’s Doc Holliday is getting a steal.
“I had a few scholarship offers, but I didn’t end up taking any,” Tubbs said. “I had a preferred walk-on offer from Marshall and that’s what I’m getting into hard now. I’m looking at the Herd more than anything. It’s not official, but I’m already settling things. It might be official here before August.”
MU apparently has done its research.
“I didn’t know I really wanted to be a football player for college until my junior year,” Tubbs said. “Then I broke my elbow. So I basically had my senior year just to get started. Everybody else starts earlier. I believe had I started earlier I could have racked up a couple more [scholarship offers]. It’s OK, though. I’m going somewhere to work hard and I’ll still be fine.”
“Killer instinct,” Tubbs said. “I want to stand out every time I hit the field. I want people to remember my name when they leave. I don’t go out there just to play. I go out there to be remembered.”
He’ll play slot and outside receiver as well as DB on Saturday. He projects the same at Marshall. Tubbs, by the way, runs a 4.58-second 40-yard dash.
“People point at me because of the way I move, how fast I run, how high I jump, the whole package,” Tubbs said. “I give it my all. I try to make the best play.”
Likewise, scouts might want to check out Wheeling Park’s Geremy Paige.
Paige received a lot of attention in his high school career. Toledo checked out the 5-11, 210-pound prospect. Staff from TCU visited him. Yet the state’s Huff Award winner committed to California, Pa., before switching to Division II Gannon University.
“I’m headed to Gannon University to play football with my teammates Matt Hackathorn and Zach Phillips of Park,” Paige said. “I’m probably going to redshirt, but I’ll play middle linebacker.”
All three — Hackathorn is an all-state lineman and Phillips is an all-state quarterback — are playing in Saturday’s game. Odds are all three will start. In these days of rapid-fire transferring, it would behoove coaches to do their homework Saturday for future possibilities.
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God bless GW’s Riffe for trying to create, well, a rift.
“I feel like we have a great bond,” Riffe said. “The South, most of the time, is looked at as an underdog. So we have kind of a chip on our shoulders, I guess you could say. It’s funny how all the rivals from around the Charleston area can get together after hating each other and wanting to beat each other so bad. We can come together for a common cause to beat the North.”
It was then pointed out that the South has won the last four games, seven of the last eight and leads the series by 38-19-2.
“Yeah, but still we have to carry that chip on our shoulders,” he said.
Riffe, who is heading to West Virginia State, was asked if he’s trying to manufacture a chip.
“Yeah,” he said.
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Some North-South notes:
n How will the game be played? Expect trickery from North coach Billy Haddox of East Fairmont.
“[Assistant coach] Chad [Davidson] said we’re going to have to run some real plays,” Haddox said with a smile.
Of running the ball up the middle, Haddox said, “We haven’t run that yet.”
“For 16 years,” chimed in South assistant Gene Morris. “So what’s different?”
n Greenbrier West’s Lewis McClung, the South’s head coach, gave a nod to the intense heat in Institute.
“We’re not killing them out there,” McClung said. “We’re not out there running wind sprints. We’re just trying to get in our base system. That’s really all we have time for.”
n Paige said he might play more than middle linebacker.
“Maybe a little rush end, we’ll see,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. “Maybe a little bit of offense, too. We’ll see.”
n The South’s Kinder said his connection with William & Mary resembled speed dating.
“Near the end of basketball season I got an email from them and went down,” said the Greenbrier East grad. “It happened kind of quick, in a week. I was really happy. I put a lot of hard work into it. I’ll go down at the end of the month and start preparation to beat Virginia Tech.”
n There are many familiar names in the game. Bluefield product D.J. Edwards’ father David was MVP for the South for Mount View in 1993. Fairmont’s Vincent Delligatti’s father Mark, now the Polar Bear wrestling coach, played in the game, as did his uncle Skeeter. Tate Hash’s father Mark played for Stonewall Jackson and the South. (He also recently resigned after six years of coaching Washington.) Also, Martinsburg end Troy Walker is the son of Bulldogs’ coach David.
n Two North players returned home after reporting to camp. Doddridge County’s Isaac Britton had to leave because of kidney stones and Lewis County’s Mark Metzgar left with a stomach virus.
Meanwhile, GW’s Jack Skidmore replaced Wayne’s Alex English for the South.
n Game director Bob Mullett gave a glowing state-of-the-game report on Tuesday.
“We’ve had the best sponsorship,” Mullett said. “It’s been the best in 25 years. We’ve also had great media support.”
The contest is put on by the West Virginia Coaches Association, but has a title sponsor in WCHS-8 Fox 11 television stations. Aside from Mullett, Mark Montgomery and Jeff Campbell help run the game. Sarge Cordery is again in place as equipment manager.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.