Most of the time, it’s the Class AAA athletes who get the majority of the attention during North-South week. Sissonville’s Will Hackney gets the chance to change that.
Hackney will play quarterback for the South Saturday in the WCHS-TV 8/Fox 11 North-South All-Star Football Classic at South Charleston High School, but that’s not his only venture into the North-South games.
He’s also competing in the North-South basketball game Friday evening at the South Charleston Community Center, pulling off the renowned North-South “double.’’
Traditionally, marquee players like quarterbacks generally hail from West Virginia’s larger, or Class AAA schools, for the North-South game. But not in recent years.
Last year, nary a Class AAA quarterback suited up for either side. This year, both the North and South sport just one big school QB out of the three on their roster.
Hackney, who played for the Class AA Indians and Sherman’s J.T Hensley (Class A) are listed at quarterback for the South, along with Will Adkins of AAA Spring Valley. For the North, it’s AA athletes Connor Neal (Fairmont Senior) and Jacob Hartman (Petersburg) to go with Tre Beard of AAA Musselman.
“There were a lot of great quarterbacks, especially down south,’’ Hackney said of the pool of potential North-South players this year, “but I felt pretty confident I could get picked, and I did, and I’m here with a great group of guys.’’
Hackney is looking at his weekend as a great opportunity to make a case for small school players.
“It is. It’s a great chance,’’ he said. “We don’t have that many triple-A kids, and I like to see single-A kids and double-A kids to get a fair shot at the higher competition. I like it a lot.’’
The last couple of days have been a whirlwind for Hackney, especially when the North-South basketball players reported for practice on Thursday afternoon.
“I arrived for football on Sunday and we’ve put in about nine [football] practices since Sunday,’’ he said. I practiced [Thursday] morning and that was the last one until Saturday at noon. Until then, it’s all basketball.
“It’s a whole different mindset. A lot of it is mental, coming from the field back onto the court. All week, it’s been a test. It’s early rising and it’s a lot of mental stuff.”
The South will be running Spring Valley’s offense in the football game, so Hackney has relied on Adkins to give him a crash course in the nuances.
“I’ve been learning from him,’’ Hackney said. “So I’ll follow his lead and run through the offense.
“Me and Will, we’ll even it up a good bit. He’s more of a pocket passer and I’m going to be able to run more.’’
As a senior, Hackney rolled up more than 3,000 yards of total offense for Sissonville in 10 games. He threw for 2,453 yards and 29 touchdowns and ran for 553 yards and 10 additional scores.
But first, he gets the chance to knock down a few baskets in the North-South basketball game, set for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff Friday. Tickets for that game are priced at $5.
Hackney averaged 21.1 points per game last winter, second-best in the Cardinal Conference behind Logan’s David Early (26.2), and Hackney also ranked among the Kanawha Valley leaders with 53 3-point field goals.
North-South basketball organizers invited him first, but he wasn’t made aware of that invitation until after football invited him.
“It was, shoot, I’m doing both,’’ he said. “It was kind of a no-brainer. Sissonville doesn’t get a lot of people who do the basketball game. That’s really an honor, so it was a no-brainer to try and balance the two.”
Hackney plans to continue playing football this fall at West Virginia State, so this week’s football training camp at State’s facilities in Institute have given him an early look at his future.
“Yeah, I get familiar with the campus here,’’ he said, “and the dorms and the practice field a little bit.’’
Kickoff Saturday is set for 12:06 p.m. at SC High School. Tickets are priced at $8 each. WCHS will televise the football game live.
Three men will be inducted into the North-South Hall of Fame Friday during a banquet that begins about 4:40 p.m. at Little Creek Park in South Charleston — Kerry Marbury, the former Monongah standout; Mike Joseph, the director of strength of conditioning at WVU; and Wheeling’s Bob Contraguerro for his support and meritorious service to the game.
A parade will precede the banquet, starting at 4 p.m. on D Street in South Charleston.