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High school football returns to the valley

If you’re a fan of high school football, Saturday will certainly serve as a preview of what’s coming in just a few weeks.

When the top graduated seniors from Ohio take on their counterparts from West Virginia in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference’s Rudy Mumley All-Star Football Game, it will start the clock ticking toward the third week in August and the opening of the 2021 high school football season.

There will be bragging rights on the line in Wheeling Island Stadium when the 75th game in a series that dates back to 1940 gets under way at 7:15 p.m.

For some of the players who will dress tonight, the game will represent a final tuneup before they head to college training camps during the next few weeks. For others, it will be the last time they ever step onto a football field.

While the game itself is important, the friendships that have been made since training camp opened earlier this week at Bethany College will last long into the future. In many ways, it is about more than football. Activities those involved in the contest have had the chance to be a part of include the annual Osiris Shrine Social, the Queen of Queens contest and a pep rally. When it is all said and done, hundreds of area young men and women will participate in the evening, whether as a player, a member of the OVAC All-Star Band, a Queen of Queens contestant or a cheerleader.

Keep in mind, though, that the event is about raising money for charity, and it has been very successful on that level as well.

The OVAC reports that it has donated more than $900,000 to charitable organizations and scholarship funds because of the game.

Like many things across our region, last year’s game fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic. The OVAC plans to recognize the players, cheerleaders and queen contestants who had been scheduled to participate but who never had the chance to take the field.

It might be hard to believe, but the start of the high school football season is less than a month away. To make sure you’re ready for the third week of August, you’ll want to get a copy of our award-winning high school football preview section, The Gridiron, which will be included in our Aug. 18 editions. It’s the region’s premiere football edition and will offer complete previews of each of our area high school teams.

High school football returns Saturday — we hope you will sit back and enjoy.

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