Institute — For many participants, the North-South Football Classic is the end of a chapter.
Those who were high school standouts on the gridiron will dust off their cleats one last time post-graduation to compete with the peers they've played against over the last four years.
For Fayetteville's David Moneypenny, who will coach the South at the annual all-star game Saturday at noon, and Fayetteville linebacker Sammy Pullens, it's an end to more than just one chapter.
"It's easy to know it's the end and let that come to the front of your mind, but I try to suppress that," Moneypenny said. "It's difficult to do, but I don't want to think too much about what I don't have, just what I do have. This is an incredible opportunity. I've gotten to know all these kids that I've played against and coached against as well as a few coaches I didn't know before. This has been awesome and I wouldn't trade this experience."
With the closure of Fayetteville upon them, Moneypenny and Pullens will be the last two representatives of Fayetteville football, something that's not lost on either.
"Everybody exchanges decals, so there's a black 'F' on every helmet," Moneypenny said. "Everybody is representing this week. It catches my eyes quite often, but we're here to coach all the kids and make sure they all have fun and are ready to compete on Saturday."
"It's crazy to think that the school's closing down and I'm the last one to represent it," Pullens said. "It's a great feeling though to be the last one. It's great getting to work with coach Moneypenny one last time, too. We have a great connection with each other on and off the field. It's nice having him up to share this with."
As both Pullens and Moneypenny navigate through a week packed with two-a-days and various recreational activities, both are relishing in the opportunity to work together one last time. With Moneypenny serving two separate stints as Fayetteville's head coach and as an assistant in between, he's become familiar with Pullens' family, and as such has enjoyed coaching him one last time.
"It's very special having him up here representing not only the South, but Fayetteville," Moneypenny said of Pullens. "It's going to be the last time that black 'F' will be on a helmet. It's kind of hard to wrap that up into words. He's always been a lot of fun to coach. He's never missed a day of practice in four years. He's a 3.5 GPA kind of kid, his brothers played at Fayetteville and his parents were a part of the booster program. This is what it's all about. Small town football and the essence of what we're trying to do is represent."
Despite the emotions that come knowing this is it, both have taken time to enjoy the week. Moneypenny has allowed his staff to handle much of the coaching responsibilities, making an effort to get to know the players he's had to gameplan for over the past four years, as has Pullens.
"It's good," Moneypenny said. "It's difficult to prepare for those types of kids. It's a pleasant surprise to have them on our side of the ball for a change. They're all hard workers, so they're a lot of fun to coach, no question."
The game will be played at South Charleston High School.
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