Local Class A players excited for North-South football classic

INSTITUTE – For three local newly-graduated seniors, Saturday’s annual West Virginia North-South Football Classic provides a challenge for the present, and an opportunity to reflect on both their pasts and futures on the gridiron.

Tyler Anderson and Kyle Ritz of 2015 Class A champion Magnolia and Zach Davis of St. Marys have been chosen for the North team, and will represent the area’s small schools amongst the best seniors from across the state from all divisions. All three are enjoying working with their new teammates, and excited to test their mettle against unfamiliar opponents from bigger schools.

“There are a lot of people from AAA and AA,” said Magnolia running back/defensive back Anderson.

“It’s a little tough coming up from single A,” he admitted, “but I’ve been holding up.”

“It’s good to go up against the guys from the big schools,” his Magnolia compatriot Ritz, a tight end/defensive end, agreed.

“It’s neat, because in A ball, we don’t always get the credit we deserve,” said Ritz. “If you play in single A and have great ability, you can play for anybody around here.”

Blue Devil lineman Davis, who participated in last week’s BACF Ohio vs. West Virginia all-star football game at Stadium Field, commented on the difference between the largely locally-based BACF team and the more widespread North squad.

“There’s a whole lot more new faces; I think I know two people on the North team. I’m having fun doing it, though,” said Davis.

“The spirit’s the same, the chemistry’s the same. We all have the same goal: to win the game, like last week,” Davis continued.

All three remarked upon the challenge of learning new offensive and defensive schemes at very short notice.

“It’s coming together. It’s early still, but we’re starting to get it down,” said Davis.

“It’s a little different,” said Ritz.

“(North assistant) coach (Eric) Snyder (from University) runs a fairly-similar system as Magnolia. The biggest difference, defensively, is that we’re not allowed to blitz in this game.

“I didn’t know I was playing offense until yesterday (Monday), but I’m getting it down. (Assistant) coach (Bobby) Burnside (from Doddridge County) has got me on special teams too.”

Anderson also will be performing multiple duties.

“Right now, I’ve been on offense, and done some special teams – punt and kick returns,” he said. “Our coach has a great offense for us to run.

“I’d be happy to go out on defense too. I enjoy giving the hits instead of taking them.”

All three players will be continuing their careers in college next fall. Ritz and Anderson both will be playing for West Liberty, while Davis will attempt to make the Mountaineers squad as a walk-on in Morgantown.

“I’ll be rooming with Kyle next year,” said Anderson.

“We didn’t really plan it out. I felt like it gives me the best opportunity to play.”

“I’ll be playing defensive end; we report for camp on Aug. 9,” Ritz explained.

“It’s a big step up. I’ve been working really hard to get my speed and weight up. There’s always room to get better.”

“I report to WVU on June 27,” said Davis of the adventure ahead.

“My goal is to get to fall camp; in the long term, I just to find a way to get on the field.”