The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

High School Sports

June 7, 2014

East-West All-Star Classic will feature southern W.Va.’s best

After 20 years, the Hatfield-McCoy Senior Bowl is no more.

The longtime Mingo County-based football all-star game, featuring players from West Virginia doing battle with players from Kentucky, will no longer be played.

However, gridiron fans in the southern coalfields shouldn’t worry. Something new is on the horizon.

Aug. 2 will mark the inaugural Cliffs Natural Resources East-West All-Star Classic, putting some of the best seniors from southern West Virginia against each other one last time.

The game will take place at the home of the Mingo County Miners, Harless Stadium in Maetwan.

First-year Summers County head coach Nate Tanner will represent the East team, serving as an offensive coordinator for River View head coach Gehrig Justice. Webster County head coach Wes Eddy will serve as the defensive coordinator.

The chance to take part in the game is something Tanner is relishing.

“It was humbling when he asked me to coach in it with him,” Tanner said. “I wasn’t expected to be asked to coach in an all-star game after coaching for one season. It’s more cool than anything. I love what I do, so it’s another opportunity to do that.”

Coaching under Justice creates an interesting dynamic for Tanner. He previously played under Justice’s brother Garin at Concord University.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Tanner added. “I think he uses similar philosophies as coach Justice does. I think we’ll be on the same page.”

The West squad will be coached by former Logan head coach Gary Mullins, who recently resigned his position with the Wildcats. His assistant coaches will serve with him in their normal capacity.

To provide a little bit of state pride to the contest, the East squad will wear blue and gold, similar to WVU, while the West team will don kelly green and white, similar to Marshall.

Event organizers hope to expand in the years to come, allowing players from all corners of West Virginia to take part in the game, competing with the larger North-South game, which takes place at Laidley Field in Charleston.

“I don’t think it will draw what North-South does right away,” Tanner said. “But eventually, if they get it developed to where the state’s split in half, I think it could be a really competitive game.

“As far as North-South goes, the north is mostly made of AAA teams and the south is mostly AA-A teams,” Tanner explained. “I think it will be much more even. I’m not saying the south can’t hang with the north, but I think it will be a better matchup.”

While rosters for each team have yet to be formally announced, the East team will be made up of players from Bluefield, James Monroe, Mount View, River View, Summers County, Westside and Wyoming East.

The West will feature players from Cabell Midland, Capital, Chapmanville, George Washington, Logan, Man, Mingo Central and Wayne.

The game will also include a queen pageant, where homecoming queens from participating schools are invited to compete for the Queen of the East-West All-Star Classic.

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