INSTITUTE, WV (WOAY) – “Every guy in here, at least on my side, when I called and asked them, it was an immediate yes,” explained South Cardinals Head Coach Brad Dingess.
It is the pinnacle of West Virginia high school football, featuring the best athletes in the state. Nine area seniors from all three classes will gear up for the annual North-South Football Classic this Saturday.
Woodrow Wilson’s Keynan Cook said, “Usually we play against these guys, so it’s fun to get to know them a little better and actually get to practice with them and learn from them. They all have, like the coaches said, very high football IQs.”
“They all know what they’re doing because this is the best players in the state.”
All of them are excited for the opportunity to play one last high school football game.
“It’s just an honor, honestly. I get to play again with everybody, all the best players in the state, so it’s just a great opportunity for me,” said Oak Hill’s Leonard Farrow.
“I’ve been working over the summer. I’ve been waiting for this moment, this day, so it’s exciting,” added Mount View’s TJ Bell. “I know what they can do, and they know what I can do, and I think it will be a good pair on the field.”
But not everyone was expecting the call. Mount View’s Tony Bailey explained, “It means a lot because the school I’m from, I didn’t think they would look down there. I guess talent does really get noticed.”
Some are excited for the experience. “I’m very excited just being able to come and play with a lot of the most talented players in the state. It’s just a really good experience and I’m very excited to come down here and play,” said Oak Hill’s Braxton Hall.
Montcalm’s Devin Green explained, “It’s a little nerve wracking because I have to get out of my comfort zone, away from home for a week. It’s really fun. I get to do a lot of fun things and I even have a few people that I know from here.”
Others are just ready to play ball. Bell added, “I like to hit people. That’s what I like about football–hitting people, so I’m excited for that.”
For several of these players, it could be the last time they step onto the field.
“I’m really excited. I’m just trying to have fun this week since it could be the last game in my career. I’m just looking forward to having fun and hopefully, getting the win,” explained Independence’s Logan Phalin.
Liberty’s Logan Dodrill said, “I thought about and asked myself if I really wanted to do it. I thought I’m never going to be able to do this again if I don’t play college, so it was a no-brainer.”
For some, it could be the last time they ever play together.
“We’ll always be friends, but this’ll probably be the last time we play together,” explained Cook.
Woodrow Wilson’s Maddex McMillen added, “It’ll definitely be fun. Just to do it one more time, just have fun, be together and play one more time.”
A lot of these young athletes may be used to playing against each other. But one thing is for sure—this year’s South Cardinals team will band together and try and take down the North.
“Oh yeah, we’re going to win,” explained Hall.
Green said, “Oh yeah, definitely. South all the way. South squad.”
McMillen and Cook laughed, “Oh yeah for sure, for sure. South all the way.”
Bell added, “Oh yeah, we’re going to win. We’re going to kick North’s butt.”