Mark Batton To Coach OVAC Rudy Mumley All-Star Game
Prep football season is seven months away. However, the Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Charity Football Classic preparations are well under way.
Magnolia’s Mark Batton and Martins Ferry’s Dave Bruney have accepted invitations to serve as the West Virginia and Ohio head coaches, respectively, for the game, which is scheduled for Sunday, July 24 at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Batton and the Blue Eagles entered the 2010 season with high expectations and didn’t disappoint.
The veteran coach led Magnolia to the West Virginia Class AA state championship and a perfect 14-0 season along the way, including an OVAC Class 3A title.
“I get a great feeling just thinking about last season every day,” Batton said. “What a great way to top it off by coaching (West Virginia) in the OVAC All-Star Game.”
This is Batton and the Blue Eagles’ second time coaching the game. They last did it in 2007 and narrowly fell to Ohio when Nick Rocchio found Steubenville’s Maurice Bougard for a game-winning touchdown late in the contest.
“Our coaching staff is excited to be a part of it again,” Batton said. “We kind of knew after we won the OVAC that we’d be selected. It’s just a great honor to be chosen.”
Unlike the last time he coached in the game, Batton will have four additional schools from which to choose players. Parkersburg South, Morgantown, University and Hundred have all joined the conference in the last few years.
“Having fewer schools to choose from has always hindered (W.Va.), but we’ve added some excellent programs with excellent coaches” Batton said. “When you’ve got more schools, you’ve got more good players and that was evident last year.”
However, with more schools from which to choose, the selection process becomes even more challenging.
“Picking the entire roster is tough when you’re limited to 32 players,” Batton said. “We realize we may be overlooking some kids, but since you’re limited, someone is going to get left out. We’ll sit down and go over who fits into our schemes both offensively and defensively and spend some time talking to the other coaches.”
One of the big rewards to coaching the game is the ability to take a strong number of your own players. That could be as big a problem as it is a luxury.
“I’d like to take all of my seniors, but that’s impossible,” Batton said. “We’ll sit down and see who fits the best.” Batton could elect to bring his own quarterback if he so chooses. Justin Fox was a four-year starter for the Blue Eagles.
“Being able to (possibly) bring your own quarterback is really a nice luxury,” Batton said. “Having Justin with us is like bringing an additional coach because he knows the offense so well.”