In their playing days, Tony Filberto and George Barker initially butted heads in the first-ever overtime game in college football history.
Saturday night at Laidley Field in Charleston, the two will again meet on the gridiron, but this time as head coaches in the North-South Football Classic.
In fact, game chairman Bob Mullett reminded the media present for North-South press day Tuesday at West Virginia State University that North head coach Filberto was playing football at West Liberty and South head coach Barker at W.Va. State in 1972 when the two schools clashed in that historic overtime game.
But starting at 7:05 p.m. Saturday, the veteran coaches will match wits and their respective squads in the state all-star football game.
Barker, current head coach at Chapmanville Regional High School, called it ''a complete honor and privilege to coach in this game.''
Filberto, the Oak Glen head coach, said the North-South football game is ''a first-class operation. Coach Mullett and his staff do a great job not only with the game, but also with having activities for the kids to do every night while they're here.''
The North-South players checked in Sunday by noon and practiced already that afternoon, but only in shorts and helmets. They began two-a-days Monday before starting actual contact drills Tuesday,
But even in that short time, Filberto said on Tuesday that he and his North staff ''have gotten to know the kids and what they can do. But then again, when you've got quality athletes who want to be here, it makes it easier on us coaches.''
A lot, though, of what the state's assembled media are always interested in from the North-South head coaches on press day are what kind of offense they'll be running.
Barker said his South squad ''will spread it out and spread the ball around. We'll be a wing-T misdirection team.''
Meanwhile, Filberto's North team will ''incorporate Wheeling Central's passing game (with Maroon Knights' head man Mike Young on board) with our (Oak Glen's) running game, so it'll be a mix.''
Of course, the main player focus of most football teams is on the quarterback, and so too with the North-South game. For the North, Filberto has two signal-callers in Martinsburg's Brandon Ashenfelter and Point Pleasant's Eric Roberts. After noting that Ashenfelter ''never lost a game as a starter (in high school) and won two (Class AAA) state titles as a player,'' Filberto added that ''both our quarterbacks have character, can do the job and are a compliment to each other. So we'll certainly be playing them both a lot.''
The South as well has "two very capable quarterbacks,'' said Barker, in River View's Jacob Muncy and Spring Valley's Cam Roam. ''Both have height (each 6-0), a good strong arm and are capable of running the offense,'' added Barker.
On winning the game? ''You absolutely feel the pressure to win (this game),'' said Filberto. ''Sure, you want the kids to have fun, but we came down here for a purpose and that's to win. We feel just as confident throwing or running the ball.''
To which, Barker responded, ''I didn't ever do anything I did not to win, and this (game) is no different. We will run our offense the best way our kids can do it.''
Contact Steve Hemmelgarn at email@example.com