INSTITUTE - The North team for the annual West Virginia North-South Football Classic Saturday night at Laidley Field in Charleston has a distinct Little Kanawha Conference flavor to it.
Ten players out of the 35 for the North are from LKC schools, plus three of the coaches, including head coach Jodi Mote, hail from St. Marys.
Having a solid contingent of LKC players "was an objective of mine when I had the opportunity to be the head coach," said Mote during North-South practice at West Virginia State this week. "I respect our coaches, I respect our area and I respect our football. The numbers, though, just happened to work out that way with us getting quite a few Little Kanawha Conference kids, but they're all quality players."
One of those LKC players, Williamstown lineman Avery Goff, considers it "a big honor" to be chosen to play in the North-South game. "I'm down here with the best players in the state, and there's been some great competition for positions."
Goff will be at right tackle, but may play some at guard too Saturday night, after which he's bound for West Liberty for football in college.
For the 6-3 290-pound Goff, away from practice this week, "it's been all fun and games down here. We can joke around now, but come game time Saturday, everything gets serious."
Another LKC gridder, Daniel Plaugher from Doddridge County, played in the BACF Football Classic last Friday night at Marietta, then on Sunday headed to North-South football camp.
After taking a 48-0 BACF thumping from Ohio last year, Plaugher said the West Virginia squad this year "made up our minds from Day 1 that it was a clean slate and we were just going to dominate from the beginning - and that's what happened" in a 33-13 W.Va. win.
For the 6-4, 180-pound Plaugher, who will be at defensive back Saturday night like he was in the BACF game, "just to be down here with the best of the best in the state is something special for me. It's been neat to meet and get to know all of them. We're all getting along well, and are really starting to come together as a team with our focus square on getting a win."
This fall, Plaugher, a two-time Class A state champion in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles as well as twice the boys Class A high-point performer at the state track meet, is going to West Virginia Wesleyan to run track for the Bobcats.
"Track was really my first love," said Plaugher. "I started when I was in middle school and just fell in love with hurdles. And after that, I found out I was decent at them, so then I just kept going and really enjoyed it."
Wirt County's North-South representative here is James Ellison, who characterized Saturday's game as "a great game and a great opportunity for a Class A guy like me from a small school to come down here and meet friends I'll have for the rest of my life."
The 5-10, 185-pound Ellison also played in last week's BACF game. "We came in with a mental picture of that 48-0 score from the year before, and we took it to heart, gave it our best shot and came away with a 'W,' " he said.
In that same vein, "it's been about eight years since the North beat the South in this game," said Ellison. "So I think it's about time for that to change."
Ellison is slated to play Saturday night ''mostly on special teams, but also some D-line,"