Ohio’s Secrest shows off early to make his way to MVP at OVAC

WHEELING – All Dalton Secrest wanted to do was go out and play well.

He did that and more Sunday night at Wheeling Island Stadium.

Secrest’s dominating play from the opening gun to the closing seconds earned the Beallsville all-Ohioan Most Valuable Player honors and helped Ohio hold off a late West Virginia rally, 27-26, in the 69th annual Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Football Game.

“It sounds pretty good,” Secrest said, moments after the Buckeyes secured the triumph.

“I was just expecting to come out and help get a win for Ohio.”

What he did was dominate from his left defensive end position, so much so that it caused West Virginia head coach B.J. Depew to alter his gameplan so as to stay away from the Marietta College signee.

“He was an animal,” Ohio head coach Jose Davis said.

“Someone missed out on Dalton Secrest. I’m not knocking Marietta, but he’s good, really good. If you look at the game, (West Virginia) started running away from him.”

It’s true.

Even so, when the Mountaineers were trying to grab the on its final drive in the closing minutes they had to go toward Secrest a few times. And when it did, it didn’t work out very well.

West Virginia got the ball with 3:28 remaining and, on the first play of the drive, Secrest recorded a tackle for a 2-yard loss.

Two plays later, Secrest rushed quarterback Zach Phillips out of the pocket.

Later, with a minute left, Secrest tipped a Phillips pass, almost intercepting it in the process.

Then, with :45 left, his sack on fourth down sealed the deal for the Buckeyes and set off a wild celebration on the Ohio sideline.

“I was just trying to do my best,” Secrest humbly said. “I just try to do my best every time out.”

Secrest doesn’t talk much. He lets his actions on the field speak for him.

First for Dave Caldwell and then for Paul Kanzigg, Secrest was a force for the Blue Devils, helping lead them to an Ohio Division VII playoff berth last fall.

He registered an eye-popping 26 quarterback sacks and was the Blue Devils’ leading tackler with 75 stops from his defensive line position.

It’s not often a player from Beallsville, one of the smallest OVAC schools, gets to test his talents against players from larger schools like Wheeling Park, Morgantown, etc. But Secrest certainly showed he belonged with them on the conference’s grandest stage.

“I was just trying to come and show what I could do,” he said. “I feel like I represented Beallsville well.

“It’s been an amazing four years. It doesn’t feel real right now. I was just happy to be here.”