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The West Virginia WCHS-TV/Fox 11 North-South All-Star Football Classic

Eyewitness Sports' Mark Martin In the bicentennial year of 1976, an all-star football game featuring some of the state of West Virginia's top players was brought back to life. And since that time, the stars from the previous fall have assembled in the Kanawha Valley to prepare for and play in the annual North-South All-Star Football Classic.

Now known as the WCHS-TV/Fox 11 North-South All-Star Football Classic, the game features 72 of the state's brightest senior stars from the football season of 2010. They will battle it out on the turf at Laidley Field inside UC Stadium. The annual showdown in Charleston will take place on June 15, 2013 with the kickoff set for 7:00 p.m.

The North-South history dates back to January 1, 1934. Bill Calvert, who was the head football coach at Cabin Creek District High School in East Bank, came up with the idea for an all-star contest. The Charleston Gazette and the Charleston Knights of Columbus agreed to sponsor the game which was played on New Year's Day.

The North held practices in Clarksburg and stayed at the old Gore Hotel while the South players worked out in Charleston at Laidley Field.

That first N-S showdown ended in a scoreless tie. But a tradition was born and the best from the North and South continued meeting on an annual basis through 1955. During that time the South built a commanding edge in the series, 14-5. Besides the first game, two others also ended in a tie. Record crowds of 18,000-to-20,000 showed up for the games.

Unfortunately, after the '55 game the North-South event came to an end. The reason was the NCAA put a rule in place centering around senior high school graduates playing in summer all-star games. The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission withdrew its sanction from the game.

But in the year our country turned 200 years old, the North-South was reborn. The West Virginia Coaches Association and the Charleston Lions Club sponsored the game. Dr. Charles Byrd of West Virginia State and then Charleston High head football coach Frank Vincent played leading roles in the game returning. But instead of a January date the game was played in July and was for several years until moving into the month of June.

Training camp was staged, and still is today, on the State campus in Institute. The game has been played every year but one at Laidley Field/UC Stadium. The '78 contest was played at Parkersburg's Stadium Field due to a major renovation project at the Charleston facility.

The 1979 game was the first at the new and improved Laidley Field and featured running back Curt Warner. He helped lead the South past the North, 15-8. Warner went on to enjoy a stellar career as a running back at Penn State and later in the National Football League. He will be enshrined later this summer into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Warner is just one of the many greats to play in the game who went on to accomplish even bigger and better things at the next level and beyond.

The annual classic, both the old and present, has featured NFL Hall of Famers, College Hall of Famers, an Olympian, NBA players and pro baseball players.

The Class of 2014 will have several players move on to the next level. And as always it will be interesting to track their progress.

Enjoy our coverage of the 2014 WCHS-TV/Fox 11 North-South All-Star Football Classic.

--Mark Martin

Countdown To Kickoff

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