By MIKE MATHISON
BETHANY – Jose Davis and B.J. Depew get it.
They lived it.
And, they are witnessing their players getting it also.
The head coaches for the 69th-annual Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Football Game know there is more to this week than Sunday’s game at Wheeling Island Stadium.
In the long run, it’s about the relationships that are formed and how long they last.
Davis, a Bellaire graduate and Buckeyes coach, was the Ohio quarterback in 1996 and his original room assignment was with Big Reds teammate Dusty Kinder.
“By the end of the week, (Cambridge’s) Jameel Turner ended up staying with me and we kicked Dusty out,” Davis joked. “He had to go stay with someone else and it’s because that’s the relationship that Jameel and I picked up being together here all week long.”
For Depew, in his second stint as the West Virginia head coach, X’s and O’s aren’t always the main focus.
“This is a great group of kids and they’re really getting to know each other well,” he said. “What the kids will get out of it (this week) they won’t really realize until they’re much older – 10, 15 years down the road, looking back on it, I think that’s when the real value of this experience will come to light to them.
“The diversity of the hometowns that these boys comes from is bridged by this game for many. This will prepare them for meeting guys from all walks of life as they go on in their college careers and beyond.
“We mixed up all the schools (for roommates). We didn’t put classmates together. We wanted to make sure there were different schools represented in each room. That makes a big difference. That’s one of the easiest ways for a team to come together in just one weeks time.”
Davis, who is entering his first season as head coach of St. John Central, is keen on watching how the Ohio players interact off the field.
“I don’t watch how the guys are acting with each other on the field as much because you seem them smacking fives,” Davis said. “I watch how the kids are acting with each other in the cafeteria or in the dorms.
“Once you get the guys who live in different spectrums coming together, you understand that things are moving in the right direction.”
Thirty-three players dot each roster and the latest player, a Morgantown graduate, was asked to play Saturday.
“He was so excited,” Depew said. “I think that says a lot about how far and wide the legend of the OVAC All-Star football game has spread and how quickly.”
The OVAC week is a good teacher for the players as they begin to travel different roads into adulthood, whether it is to continue a football career, study engineering or go into the armed forces.
“You can tell them all you want, but experience is the best teacher,” Davis advised. “You want to see the kids joking as we sit here (at media day on Monday) because you know they’re starting to make some friends.
“We don’t want these guys to be so close-minded that they’re not willing to be buddies with this guy or another because he’s from a certain school or whatever. We want these guys to understand that on Sunday evening, we’ll need everyone on the same page.”