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Back to the future:One Jefferson County team

July 27, 2009
By MIKE MATHISON

It is time.

It is time to go back to how it used to be and have one American Legion baseball team in Jefferson County.

It is time for the elite baseball player to have a chance to play with other elite players on one team.

It is time for that elite team to have a chance to win a state championship.

It is time for there to be nine guys on the bench each game instead of two this game, three this game, one this game, etc...

It is time for 18 guys to be in uniform each game.

It is time for Steubenville Post 33, Toronto Post 86, Richmond Post 740 and Wintersville Post 557 to play under one roof, so to speak.

Those four teams are comprised of the six county high schools. That is a small pool of players to choose from.

Alliance, Wayne County, Coshocton and Tuscarawas County have players on their squads from 27 high schools.

One of those schools, Indian Valley, won the Ohio High School Division III state championship in June.

It is time to take the remainder of the local high school players and put them on their respective high school teams for something around a 20-game schedule.

It is time to put everything aside and do what is in the best interest of the kids.

Those 18 kids now have a better chance of winning the district tournament and head to Athens for the state tournament. A win there and the regional tournament would follow. That is where the kids would really be noticed by major college baseball coaches.

Ask Steve Davis or Mike Gulan.

I understand this is a territorial thing, but this also gives more kids a chance to play competitive baseball during the summer.

I understand there are logistical things to work out:

High school coaches only have 10 contact days with their teams during the summer.

Funding for the high school teams - one possible way is for the current legion teams to sponsor those teams.

Who will coach the 'A' team? I have an idea.

Who will coach the high school teams?

How will the 'A' team be picked? Take the best five kids from each team (30 players) for a workout/tryout once the high school season for all teams end and pick the best 18 from that pool of players.

It is time to get a bunch of adults who love the game in a room and hash this thing out.

On the West Virginia side of legion baseball, it is time to really look at moving the Area One Tournament up one week. The four teams - Weirton, Wellsburg, Moundsville and Wheeling - lose players to the Rudy Mumley Ohio Valley Athletic Conference All-Star Charity Football Classic at Wheeling Island Stadium every year because those players, once they are on campus at West Liberty University, may not leave the site.

That means those kids must choose between playing football or baseball that week and, as far as I know, football is the prominent choice.

How about taking the choice out of their hands and move the baseball tournament to the week before the football game? That way all of the baseball teams will be with their full rosters and the kids can play football the next week.

Did you notice those touchdown celebrations and ultimate 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalties during Sunday's 64th edition of the all-star football affair at Wheeling Island Stadium.

Touchdown celebrations? Really?

Why?

I did not know a professional football game had broken out in a high school stadium.

Unacceptable.

Being humble is a good thing.

I don't want to hear about kids having fun.

Those kids had fun during the week meeting new friends, getting ready to play a game.

Those kids had fun participating in all the festivities during the week.

I'll bet a lot of everything I own that those same kids would have never even thought about doing that for their respective high school coaches during a high school game.

By the way, Ohio's 47-7 victory means the Buckeyes have won 14 of the last 15 games after the teams were 10-10-1 in the first 21 contests since the OVAC took over sponsorship of the game in 1972.

I am sorry to see Weir High and Madonna High will not scrimmage each other at Jimmy Carey Stadium this season like they did last year.

It was the first time since 1975 the Red Riders and Blue Dons were on the same football field together.

I thought last year went pretty well.

Adults and kids behaved themselves.

The Weir Football Boosters Club, in partnership with the Community Bread Basket, held a canned food drive in lieu of parking fee and it went over well.

I thought last year's event was good for the coaches, good for the kids and good for the community.

Here is one voice hoping it comes back soon.

The Wheeling Hospital Rally in the Valley, known as the Friends of Coal Prep Football Classic last year, is going through changes as the 2009 edition is set to play on Sept. 5.

There are five games this year, two more than last season:

Wheeling Central vs. Akron Buchtel, 10 a.m.

McKeesport vs. St. Joseph's Prep, 12:30 p.m.

Steubenville vs. Woodland Hills, 3:30 p.m.

Pittsburgh Central Catholic vs. Youngstown Ursuline, 6 p.m.

John Marshall vs. Bellaire, 8:30 p.m.

"I'm not sure if (Saturday) will be the permanent home,'' said Ken Halloy, a St. John Central graduate and the president of Halloy Boy Sports Marketing Inc. "Ideally, we would like to play on the Sunday of Labor Day Weekend.

"We've got some work to do in that regard because West Virginia doesn't permit teams to play on Sunday. It's not a problem in Ohio, but it is in places like Florida.''

I would really hope they sell an all-day ticket this year and not just a $15 per game ticket.

Let me be the first to say an all-Sunday lineup is really stupid.

Friday and Saturday, with an occasional Thursday thrown in at the beginning of the season, are high school football days.

Sunday is church. Period.

Then, it is professional football.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at mmathison@heraldstaronline.com)

 
 

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