W.Va. hopes to keep series lead
By PAUL ADKINS, Sports Editor
Published: Friday, July 27, 2007 4:55 AM CDT
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Year in a and year out the Kentucky All-Stars seem to come across the Tug River into Matewan, West Virginia, as the favorites in the annual Hatfield-McCoy Senior Bowl.
But the last three years, West Virginia has stuck it to the Bluegrass State team, winning all three games to take a 6-5 all-time series lead.
West Virginia, usually undersized as compared to the Kentuckians, has gotten the job done with its skilled position players — good quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and defensive backs.
West Virginia has also been able to take advantage of costly Kentucky turnovers.
The Mountain State All-Stars did that last year, turning Kentucky miscues into scores and watching Man’s Andrew McDonald run all over Tiger Stadium as West Virginia won 32-19 on a dry and fast track at Matewan.
West Virginia once trailed 4-1 in the all-time series, which dates back to 1996.
Danny “Yogi” Kinder, the current Matewan High School football coach and one of the bowl game’s founders, said West Virginia’s turnaround has been somewhat of a surprise.
“It really has,” Kinder said. “There were six or seven kids from Belfry on those teams that won back-to-back state championships. It surprised me but it’s hard to put together a team in a week. Kentucky has been so much bigger than West Virginia. I think West Virginia has had some really good skilled people. Really and truly I thought Kentucky had the best football team over the last two or three years. West Virginia just kind of outhit them.”
McDonald ran at will in last year’s game as he rolled up 205 yards on just 12 carries and scored on TD runs of 51, 51 and 47 en route to being named as the game’s offensive MVP.
“Man, he was awesome. He put on a show for us I’m telling you,” Kinder said of McDonald.
West Virginia hopes Paul McCoy can put up McDonald-like numbers in this year’s clash.
McCoy, an all-state running back from Matewan, broke the state’s single-game rushing record last fall as he rolled up more than 600 yards in a blowout win over Burch.
“I don’t know if he’s as good as McDonald. McCoy’s
really a small back, but I’ll tell you one thing, if he can get out there they will have a hard time catching him I’ll guarantee you that,” Kinder said. “Last year at Matewan it seemed like our kids blocked pretty good for him for four or five games and they just kind of quit blocking for him I thought.”
Kinder said West Virginia has also seemed to outhit Kentucky the last three years.
“I think that West Virginia will be pretty good on defense, too, because they’ve got a lot of 190-pound or 200-pound people,” Kinder said. “It’s been a defensive hitting game and I really thought that West Virginia kind of outhit them the last couple of years. Before that, Kentucky was the team that was doing all of the hitting. But usually, the team that loses this football game is the team that makes the mistakes like dropping a punt, fumbling the ball or throwing some interceptions.”
Kinder said this year’s matchup seems pretty even.
“I think both teams have got pretty good players,” he said. “We’ve got the best from West Virginia and the best from Kentucky. Last year, there was a bunch of good players but not a lot of quarterbacks. This year, there are three or four pretty good quarterbacks. That’s the first thing that you have got to have to play this game. There are three good quarterbacks from Man, Logan and Gilbert and we’ve got some good players from Wayne, which won the state championship.”
Kentucky seems to have an advantage each year in that it can draw on some of its schools which have an enrollment of 1,000 or more. None of the area West Virginia schools for the Hatfield-McCoy Bowl have that many students.
“Everyone’s got three or four good football players and when you put them all together you’ve got a pretty good football team,” Kinder said. “West Virginia is not really all that big but they have some real good backs. Kentucky’s got bigger kids. They’ve also got bigger schools over there than we’ve got over here. Wayne, Logan, Chapmanville and Scott are Double-A and the rest are just Single-A. Over there, they’ve got Belfry, Shelby Valley, East Ridge, Sheldon Clark and Johnson Central. They would all be Triple-A over here. Johnson Central is a 4A school in Kentucky. They’ve probably got more kids there than we do in all of Mingo County.
“I know they’ve got the Belfry kids and they are always good football players. I know that they’ve also got four or five kids from Johnson Central and they were undefeated last year and went all the way to the semifinals. They’ve got two or three kids that are going to play college football. Shelby Valley has a
big kid that is also going to play college football somewhere. They’ve got some pretty good players.”
The Hatfield-McCoy Senior Bowl is a continuation
of the state’s longest running senior bowl game, the Kiwanis Senior Bowl, which started in the 1950s and ran until the mid-1990s when it was canceled due to financial troubles. The K-Bowl also had problems finding housing for players coming from all over the states of West Virginia and Kentucky and was put on indefinite hiatus.
Matewan football coach Kinder reorganized the game and restarted it under the name The Hatfields and McCoys Senior Bowl and moved it from Williamson’s Lefty Hamilton Park to Matewan High’s Tiger Stadium. Massey Coal (now Massey Energy) became the game’s sponsor in 1997, its second year.
The annual game takes its name from the infamous family feud between the Hatfields and McCoys that took place in the town of Matewan and in bordering Pike County, Ky., which lies just across the bridge from Matewan.
The West Virginia All-Stars are the Hatfields, while the Kentucky All-Stars are the McCoys.
The game is always played at Tiger Stadium on the last Saturday in July.
The two teams are made up of the top 30 graduated seniors from West Virginia and the top Kentucky graduated seniors. Players are gathered from Mingo, Logan, Wayne, McDowell, Boone and Wyoming counties in West Virginia and Pike, Martin, Floyd, Johnson, Letcher and Lawrence counties in Kentucky.
The game also spotlights all-star cheerleading squads from each state. The two cheer teams will perform during the game and at halftime.
Halftime activities include the crowning of the Hatfield-McCoy Senior Bowl queen.