NEWTOWN – It’s only three days away until the Hatfield-McCoy Senior Bowl and both the West Virginia and Kentucky All-Star football teams are gearing up for the 18th-annual clash.
This year’s game appears to be a good one.
As far as sheer talent and athleticism go this could be the best one yet.
This year’s game is scheduled for Saturday at 8 p.m. at Mingo Central High School’s Buck Harless Stadium in Newtown. It’s the second year the new home of the Miners will play host to the all-star game, pitting graduated seniors from southern West Virginia against their counterparts from eastern Kentucky.
Both coaches – West Virginia’s Joey Fields and Kentucky’s David Jones – have tapped talent from beyond the usual borders.
Fields landed seven players from the Charleston, Huntington and Beckley areas from such tradition-steeped schools such as Beckley Woodrow Wilson, Cabell Midland, South Charleston, George Washington and Capital.
On the other side, Coach Jones has brought in players from football-rich Breathitt County and Ashland and tapped a kicker from West Jessamine High School in the Central Kentucky Bluegrass.
“I’m excited because I think this is the best talent both sides have had in this game from the top of the roster on down,” said Fields, who is an assistant coach at hometown Mingo Central. “I hope a lot of fans come out and see it. I hope there are some new people who will come down to the game and will check it out.”
Fields led West Virginia to a 37-12 win over the Kentucky All-Stars in last year’s game which was the first Hatfield-McCoy Bowl to be played on the Mingo Central FieldTurf.
Jones is back after a one-year absence. He coached Kentucky to a 30-14 victory in the 2011 Senior Bowl, which was the last one held at the old Matewan High School field before the consolidation of Williamson, Gilbert, Matewan and Burch formed Mingo Central.
Jones, who has been an assistant coach at the University of Pikeville, an NAIA school, played collegiately in the defensive secondary at the University of Kentucky in the mid-2000s after playing prep ball at Matewan and Belfry (Ky.).
“The last time David Jones coached in this game in 2011 he expanded the roster from all over the state of Kentucky. I just did the same this year with West Virginia,” Fields said. “I knew that I had to be ready for him. David’s got a great staff and a great team over there. Hopefully, we’re ready. I know our guys are excited about playing.”
Of the seven players outside of the traditional Mingo, Logan, Boone, Wayne, Wyoming and McDowell county block, all were all-state players last year for their respective teams.
“We tried to cover all of our needs,” Fields said. “They are excited about playing. They have heard about the game. Having them will get people from their schools in the Charleston area get excited about playing in this game. That will make our game more known throughout the state.”
Wayne High School’s Brandon Spurlock will most likely be West Virginia’s feature running back. The 5-foot-7, 180-pounder led the Pioneers to a 14-0 record and second straight Class AA state championship last season as he rushed for 2,003 yards and scored 28 touchdowns. He was the captain of the Class AA First-Team as voted by the state’s media.
“He’s a tough player and is hard-nosed just like all of the Wayne kids,” Fields said. “I’m happy to have him and happy for him to play.”
Seven players from Logan County dot the West Virginia All-Star roster, led by Logan’s all-state tandem of Chris Marcum and Khaleel Reynolds. The two were key on both sides of the ball for the Wildcats. Marcum and Reynolds both played quarterback and in the secondary. Reynolds was also a wide receiver. Logan went 6-5, 8-3 and 7-3 the last three seasons.
“Khaleel is a jack of all trades,” Fields said. “He can do just about anything that we ask. He will fill in some spots that I feel that we are weak in. Chris will play quarterback and safety for us.”
Also from Logan are Brant Williams (WR/DB), Brian Craft (P/K) and Teddy Nelson (OL/DL).
Chapmanville Regional High School is represented by linebacker and deep snapper Austin Watts. On the team from Man High School is Marcus Murrell (DE/TE).
West Virginia has plenty of talent, speed, size and athleticism to go around.
The addition of Craft on Sunday to the roster seems to fill West Virginia’s kicking duties. Craft averaged 40 yards a punt last season for Logan and boomed one for 68 yards. He’s headed to play Division II ball at West Virginia State.
Sixteen of West Virginia’s players were all-state. Ten of those played in the North-South All-Star Classic in Charleston back in June.
“Our strength will be our depth,” Fields said. “We have 29 players and they are all excited about this game. We have a good all-star team. You recruit for what you need.”
Another big crowd is anticipated for the Hatfield-McCoy Bowl. Last year’s game attracted around 4,000 fans to the 5,000-seat stadium.
The game will be broadcast on Williamson radio station WXCC 96.5 FM.
There will also be all-star cheerleaders and a Hatfield-McCoy Bowl queen crowned at halftime.
The Hatfield-McCoy Bowl takes its name from the infamous family feud along the Tug River in the 1870s and 1880s. The West Virginia All-Stars are the “Hatfields,” while the Kentucky All-Stars are the “McCoys.”
There are no players with the Hatfield or McCoy name on either team roster.
Hatfield-McCoy Senior Bowl
All-Time series (West Virginia leads 11-6):
2012: West Virginia 37, Kentucky 12
2011: Kentucky 30, West Virginia 14
2010: West Virginia 20, Kentucky 0
2009: West Virginia 30, Kentucky 12
2008: West Virginia 20, Kentucky 12
2007: West Virginia 22, Kentucky 14
2006: West Virginia 32, Kentucky 19
2005: West Virginia 7, Kentucky 6
2004: West Virginia 8, Kentucky 0
2003: Kentucky 40, West Virginia 36
2002: West Virginia 14, Kentucky 12
2001: West Virginia 14, Kentucky 6
2000: Kentucky 6, West Virginia 0
1999: Kentucky 18, West Virginia 12 (OT)
1998: Kentucky 22, West Virginia 19
1997: West Virginia 11, Kentucky 0
1996: Kentucky 7, West Virginia 0
* Games played at Matewan High School’s Tiger Stadium 1996-2011, Mingo Central’s Buck Harless Stadium 2012-present)