College football reps visit Mid-Ohio Valley

Even though the college football season is several months away, local residents are already getting a look at what to expect from their favorite teams this year.

Thursday night, Alan Estep, assistant head football coach/offensive coordinator at Marietta College, spoke at the college’s Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Alumni Association-Wood County Day Dinner at Napoli’s Italian Feast restaurant in Belpre.

The Pioneers are coming off a 7-3 season — their best since 1996 when they finished with the same record — and had 10 players named to the 2018 All-Ohio Athletic Conference football team.

Among the standouts Marietta College must replace this season are three first-team all-conference players: quarterback Darrien Fields and offensive linemen Caleb Riggleman and Brendan Mulholland.

Kyle McSweeney, a senior, is expected to be the starting quarterback, Estep told me at the dinner. McSweeney has been a great teammate as he patiently waited his turn to be the starting quarterback, Estep said.

Both Fields and Riggleman will remain with the Pioneers this fall as Fields will be a student assistant coach and Riggleman the tight ends coach.

Estep said the Pioneers have experienced players to step up for the departed seniors and don’t have to rely on incoming freshmen as they have at times in the past. The football players have been working hard in the weight room and during spring practice, he said.

Estep expects the Pioneer football program to continue to improve after back-to-back winning seasons.

The football program appreciates the support from the Mid-Ohio Valley alumni group and Marietta College President Bill Ruud’s administration, Estep said. “The players feel the support behind them,” he said.

About 225 people attended the West Virginia University Mountaineer Athletic Club’s Coaches Caravan at J.P.Henry’s in Wood County Wednesday.

WVU head football coach Neal Brown was among the Mountaineer coaches and administrators meeting with local fans at the restaurant.

The Wood County stop and four similar Coaches Caravans throughout the state are expected to raise a total of $25,000 for the WVU student-athlete scholarships fund, said Ryan Riddle, assistant director/donor relations for Mountaineer Athletic Club.

The Mountaineer Athletic Club is still reviewing plans for 1100 Club receptions that have been held during the summer, including in Vienna, to raise money for the WVU football program’s recruiting budget, Riddle said.

WVU is trying to raise $100 million to complete projects at Puskar Center Complex, WVU Coliseum Complex, Cary Gym Complex and WVU Golf Complex. Some of the facilities for WVU’s student-athletes — for their studies, competition and training — lag behind other schools in the Big 12 Conference, Riddle said.

The WVU Alumni Association brought its blue and gold pickup truck and trailer to the Coaches Caravan at J.P. Henry’s. Alumni officials told me they would like to see Wood County restart its chapter.

Marshall University’s Big Green Coaches Tour, “Rally on the River,” will be 5:30 p.m. June 6 at Dils Riverfront Park in Vienna. Mike Hamrick, director of athletics; head football coach Doc Holliday and head basketball coach Dan D’Antoni are expected to attend.

The $20 ticket includes food and beverages provided by North End Tavern and Brewery. Children 12 and under are admitted free.

For more information contact Mary Hendershot at 304-972-1890 or or Laurie Martin at 304-488-3297 or


You never know what might happen during a chance encounter over lunch.

According to Del. John Kelly, R-Wood, the idea of naming the Juliana Street Bridge in Frank Deem’s honor arose during lunch at the Blennerhassett Hotel last year.

Kelly said he, West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, and Dan Marshall were having lunch at the hotel. Seated at a nearby table were Bob Goldenberg, Bob Boone and Merrell O’Shea.

The two groups started talking and O’Shea and Goldenberg suggested to Kelly and Hanshaw that the Parkersburg bridge be renamed in honor of the longtime legislator from Wood County, Kelly said. Hanshaw agreed it was a good idea.

Kelly was lead sponsor on the bridge resolution this past legislative session. The Senator J. Frank Deem Memorial Bridge will be dedicated during a ceremony at 1 p.m. May 17 in the Matheny Motors parking lot, 315 Ann St., Parkersburg.

Contact Paul LaPann at