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By Staff | Aug 1, 2018

The 73rd Annual OVAC Rudy Mumbly All-Star Football Game took place on Saturday at Wheeling Island Stadium, and it was a classic. I really enjoyed it; both teams had some very good football players, and it turned into one of the best I’ve ever watched.

I have attended 19 of the last 24 games, and they seem to get better with each year. It really is a big event, and a lot of hard work goes into putting it all together. What I like about it, is the number of kids who get to participate. This year there were 33 players on each side, representing a total of 38 different schools.

Many others had the opportunity to, once again, display their talents. The McDonald’s All-Star Band comprised of 124 members, and it was a hit as usual. Sixteen cheerleaders, from 13 different schools, got to root on their team. The Queen of Queens Pageant gave 22 girls the chance to reign as queen of the event.

In 47 years, the OVAC, through the football game, has donated $942,800 to charity organizations and scholarships throughout the Ohio Valley. Local athletes playing in this year’s event were Brooks Parsons and Hunter Partridge from Magnolia, and Luc Baker from River. Katrina Heasley from Paden City made the All-Star cheerleading squad. Valley’s Brooklynn McCaslin and River’s Karigan Pfalzgraf were both in the Queen of Queens contest. Paden City was represented by three band members – Sydney Clegg, Levi Goddard and Caitlin Stewart.

Steve Billeter, Paden City; Gary Fox, River; and Ted Stewart, Magnolia; were among the 1968 players honored. Jody Hall Voithofer, from Magnolia, was one of the Queen contestant’s honored from 1968. Not all showed up but they received their recognition.

We had a great time. The game this year was held, once again, at the Island Stadium. Last year it had to be moved to Martins Ferry, which did a great job hosting the event, but it’s just not the same. The game belongs on the Island – plenty of parking, more room to move around, better for picture taking. I will say, the Purple Riders had better concessions. It was probably the first time I’ve ever been to a football game where the concession stand was selling fresh cooked green beans.

Anyway, it’s a fun time to go watch some of the best high school football players in the area take the field for what may be their last time. Some will go on and give it the old college try, but most will be out to show they were quality high school players who still have something left to prove.

I especially enjoyed watching my nephew Brooks Parsons make a few fantastic catches, including one difficult grab for a touchdown that gave the WV team some hope. He always comes up with big time plays. Could have been a game changer returning punts and kickoffs!

I also loved watching Steve Billeter walk on the field to be honored for playing in the OVAC game 50 years ago. And let’s not forget the prettiest girl on the field, Paden City cheerleader Katrina Heasley, who was selected to cheer for the WV squad. She did an excellent job.

Now, I didn’t get to finish my story last week about my Fourth of July trip to Cleveland with Bruce Crawford and our wives. Last week, we left off at the point where we realized we had missed the fireworks. We had left Edgewater Park and drove around two blocks when a guy cut us off and pulled up to the corner for an apparent drug deal. To continue (with a bit of a recap).

Around that, we zoomed, and then Bruce’s wife said, “Look over there! He has not a stitch of clothes on!” I said, “Don’t look Donna,” but it was too late. She’d already gotten a free shot. (That’s my sports story for this column.)

Anyway, he was naked in the yard and roasting wieners. We got by that, and after a couple more blocks, stood two “Ladies of the Night,” as Bruce calls them. They tried to flag us over. Without stopping for the stop sign, I admitted I might be lost. Bruce got out his GPS, and it gave us directions – right into the old warehouse, steel mill district. We soon realized we were in the wrong place as we came to a dead end with two cars setting there. After seeing some doors opening, I floored it and got out of there. We soon made it back to the hotel. What an experience!

The next day would surely be better! After all, we had the concert to look forward to. The Blossom Center is about 30 miles from downtown between Akron and Cleveland, in a kind of remote area. However, with very little difficulty, we made it. Once again, getting a great parking spot.

It was a stormy night, and the gates were slow opening. Once they started letting people in, we headed to the gates. I zipped around everyone and got through with some great credentials along with a line of “I’m from West Virginia, near Brad’s hometown. I plan on writing something about this concert.”

They bought it – hook, line, and sinker. I told them I had three more people with me, from whom I had been separated. I asked security if I could go get them. She took me to the gate and waited until I brought Bruce and the wives with me. We headed for our VIP seating. Great seats right up front – push the button, and they bring your drinks and food. Now that was service!

Everything was going right. The opening act came out with Hank Jr. following and putting on a great show. After Hank, the headliner Brad Paisley got the crowd really fired up. However, after a few songs and twenty minutes into his act, it happened.

“Clear the Blossom Center,” came over the PA system. “There’s a severe storm heading our way, strong winds, lightning, and heavy rain.” Now can you imagine, once again, thousands of people trying to evacuate all at once?

We made it back to the car, soaked but alive. That’s when I discovered my new hat was missing. Yep, left it in the VIP section. Well, no way was I going back – just another day in paradise.

So, to break it down, here’s how it goes: “Went to Cleveland to see the great fireworks display, missed them! Got to see a drug deal instead (nothing new there), a naked man roasting wieners, two ladies of the night, about got murdered in the wrong part of the West Side. Went to the Brad Paisley concert, got run out, and literally lost my hat.”

Through it all we laughed and talked and had a great time, that’s all that matters. eparsons@tylerstarnews.com