OVAC All-Stars starting to bond

BETHANY – Most would expect OVAC All-Star head coaches Jose Davis (Ohio) and B.J. Depew (West Virginia) to be spending most of their time really observing their players on the practice field this week.

And they most certainly are as it pertains to their grasping of the offensive and defensive schemes, which will be employed Sunday evening at Wheeling Island Stadium during the 69th annual Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Football Game.

“I don’t watch how the guys are acting with each other on the field as much because you see them smacking fives like teammates do,” Davis said.

But, there’s more to winning games than just knowing the plays and assignments.

On top of having talented players, a big key is chemistry and with only a week to prepare, there’s not a lot of time for that to form.

“I watch how the kids are acting with each other in the cafeteria or in the dorms,” Davis said. “Early in the week, you see the kids from the same general area (geographically) sitting with each other.”

Since arriving on campus Sunday afternoon, Davis has already seen that start to change.

“Once you get the guys who live in different spectrums coming together, you start to realize that things are really coming together,” Davis said.

The first thing Depew spoke about wasn’t anything about who’s looked good in practice, but instead how much fun the players and coaches were already having.

“This is a great group of kids and they’re really getting to know each other well,” Depew said. “The kids won’t realize what they get out of this (experience) until well down the road. I think that’s when the real value of this experience will really hit them.”

Both teams’ coaching staff purposely set up the room assignments so players from the same schools were in different rooms.

Not only for chemistry and team building, but also just to let the players see how guys from different areas handle themselves and go about their business.

“Doing that is one of the easiest ways to make sure the team comes together in a week’s time,” Depew said. “

A member of the 1996 Ohio squad, Davis recalled his time at OVAC Camp and he was assigned to room with his teammate at Bellaire, Dusty Kinder.

“By the end of the week, Jameel Turner (of Cambridge) ended up staying with me and we had kicked Dusty out,” Davis joked. “He had to go stay with someone else and it’s because of the relationship we picked up by being together (at camp).”

Davis hopes that all of his current 33 players form a relationship and friendship that lasts as long as his and Turner’s has.

“We don’t want these guys to be so close-minded that they’re not willing to be buddies with this guy or another because he’s from a certain school or whatever,” Davis said. “We want these guys to understand that on Sunday evening, we’ll need everyone on the same page.”

The experience and ability to branch out friendships and relationships is a tool for life as well. For instance, when these guys go off to colleges or their future plans in the coming weeks, the ability to interact with new people is something that’s imperative.

“You can tell them all you want, but experience is the best teacher,” Davis advised. “You want to see the kids joking and (laughing) as we sit here (at media day) because you know they’re starting to make some friends.”

The OVAC’s size helps bridge the gap for many student-athletes in the Ohio Valley and the continual increase in social media also helps people become friends much quicker.

“The diversity of the hometowns that these boys comes from is bridged by this game for many,” Depew said. “This will prepare them for meeting guys from all walks of life as they go on in their college careers and beyond.”