For one night only, old football rivalries are set aside. In their place — a game to showcase the talent of the area.
Area football seniors will converge tonight for the eighth annual Northeastern Kentucky East/West Senior Bowl at Morehead State’s Jayne Stadium with kickoff scheduled for 7:30.
Game director Tom Posey, who has been involved with the game since its inception, said that each year the game has grown. And it’s at the point where it should be getting state notoriety.
“I think it’s one of the best All-Star games in the state of Kentucky,” Posey said. “The coaches have been great to work with. And they enjoy having the talent on their teams they usually don’t get at their school. A majority of each team is playing college ball.
“This is a good freshman college football game.”
The West team will be represented by players from George Rogers Clark, Nicholas County, Paris, Bath County, Fleming County, Bracken County, Rowan County, Bourbon County and Montgomery County.
Some of the top players for West include Bath County quarterback Clark Kissick — who will walk on at Kentucky — and the George Rogers Clark duo of Sylan-Drake Mayes and Robert Cornelius, who are both committed to Campbellsville.
West’s coach will be Bath County’s Reed Fields, who has previously been on the sidelines for the event.
“Coach Fields has done this three or four times before,” Posey said. “He’s got it down pat. I don’t have to watch over him.”
On the East squad, players from Russell, East Carter, Lewis County, Fairview, Lawrence County, Ashland, Raceland, Sheldon Clark, Greenup County and Boyd County will take the field.
Top players include Ashland’s Evan Yongue, who committed to Mount Saint Joseph in Cincinnati, and a trio of Eastern Kentucky walk-ons in Russell quarterback Lance Evans, East Carter’s Cade Stidham and Fairview’s Chris Brewer.
Greenup County coach Chris Mullins will be on the sidelines for East, marking his first appearance in the game. He’s ready for kickoff to get here.
“It’s an honor and anyone would be honored to coach a bunch like this,” Mullins said. “You have guys who haven’t played since November or December come out and play for a coach they don’t even know. And they are determined to win this game and play as hard as they can.”
While in the fall the members of the Senior Bowl teams play against each other, tonight they find themselves teammates.
According to Mullins, they have taken to playing together pretty well.
“They’ve had a blast all week,” Mullins said. “There has been lots of laughter and excitement and they are all anxious. The players have even tried to have decals for all schools and represent each other.
“It’s good to see them put aside rivalries and honor each school that’s participating. This is why people should be excited.”
East leads the series 4-3. Since the game started, the home team has come out the victor in each contest. This includes last year when East won in a 47-0 blowout.
And while his team is on the visitors’ side of the scoreboard, Mullins feels his team has the ability to buck the trend.
“I was told the statistics the other day and the odds looked to be stacked against us,” Mullins said. “But we don’t believe in that and it doesn’t change our excitement.”
In last year’s installment, East took advantage of a West team without a true quarterback. It ended up starting a wide receiver behind center throughout the game.
West responded this year with three quarterbacks — Kissick, Fleming County’s Desmond McAdams and Paris’ Nate Stevens.
East will just have one in Russell’s Lance Evans, who Mullins said is taking the game seriously.
“The quarterback is the most important piece offensively in this game,” Mullins said. “A talented quarterback can diffuse the defense and open plays for other playmakers. Lance already knows what everyone does and what all 11 guys are doing. He’s been calling me and texting me and the others see that and feed off that command on the field.”
Posey said sponsors have been hard to come by for the game, which is in its fourth season at Jayne Stadium.
The attendance gate will be used to help jumpstart funds for next year’s game.
“We have to rely on the gate money to help pay for the insurance,” Posey said. “If there’s anybody out there who wants to be out there as a sponsor we’ll get them plenty of advertisement.”
Admission is $10 at the gate, and DVDs of the game can be ordered for $20.
KYLE HOBSTETTER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2658.