W. Virginia lays it on the line
WHEELING, W.Va. — It never seems to matter. Regardless of what level of football or if it’s an all-star game or a state championship game, success usually boils down to line play.
West Virginia head coach Scott Holt buys into that and believes it will be a key factor in the annual Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Rudy Mumley All-Star Game on July 28 at Wheeling Island Stadium.
“We need these kids to hold their own to give our skill kids a chance to shine,” Holt said. “We’re going to be asking some kids to play positions they probably haven’t played and we may lean on some kids who didn’t specialize in that position during the regular season.”
Holt likes the size and athleticism he and his staff selected.
Here’s a capsule look at the players:
BRETT DONOHEW, Wheeling Park — This former Patriot was a stalwart on the defensive line for Coach Chris Daugherty’s team.
The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder saw time at both nose guard and defensive tackle. He finished with 63 tackles, six sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Along with football, Donohew was a baseball player at Park.
Brett, who is the son of Scott Donohew and Laura Donohew, plans to attend West Virginia Northern Community College.
RYAN EKEY, Madonna — This former Blue Don caused all sorts of problems for opposing teams as part of the Coach Darren Hicks’ defensive line.
The 6-0, 260-pounder finished his prep career with 111 tackles, 17 sacks, 51 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and two pass deflections.
Ekey was recognized as honorable mention all-state, all-OVAC and all-Area.
Along with football, he was a standout in wrestling, placing in the OVAC and qualifying for the state tournament. He also played baseball and competed in track and field.
Ryan, who plans to attend Wheeling Jesuit, is the son of Curt and Lynette Ekey.
LUKE LAWRENCE, Wheeling Central — This former Knight played both ways for Coach Mike Young’s state championship squad.
The 5-8, 185-pounder was a center and middle linebacker and earned Central’s Offensive Lineman of the Year distinction. He also finished with 56 tackles and a fumble recovery.
Lawrence is also a standout in the classroom. He’s a member of the National Honor Society, multiple-time recipient of the OVAC Academic All-Conference honor and is a member of Drug Free Club of America.
Luke, who is the son of Robert and Paula Lawrence, plans to attend West Virginia University.
AUSTIN LOEW, Wheeling Park — This former Patriot was a standout along the defensive line for Daugherty’s club.
The 6-foot, 210-pounder logged 68 solo tackles and four sacks en route to all-OVAC honors.
Loew also shined in wrestling for the Patriots.
Austin, who is the son of Keith and Stephanie Loew, plans to attend West Liberty.
DAWSON MELLINGER, Linsly — This former Cadet was a two-way force for Coach B.J. Depew’s squad.
The 5-10, 255-pounder led the Cadets in tackles for loss with 10 and had 45 total tackles as a senior. He also paced the squad in fumble recoveries.
Mellinger was recognized for his season as a member of the all Times Leader team.
Mellinger also shines in the classroom. He’s a member of the National Honor Society, German National Honor Society and German Club. He ranks in the top four percent nationally in the German Language Exam. He was also named to the academic all-OVAC team and was a Wheeling Elks Lodge Student of the Month.
Dawson, who is the son of Steve and Julie Mellinger, plans to attend Waynesburg University.
MAC RAYMOND, Madonna — This former Blue Don lineman shined on both sides of the ball for Hicks’ team.
The 6-2, 240 pounder graded out at 88 percent from his guard spot. He also posted 27 pancake blocks. Defensively, he had 45.5 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.
Raymond was named special mention all-state and second-team all-Area.
Along with football, Raymond played baseball and was part of the Interact Club and SADD.
Mac, who plans to attend Washington & Jefferson, is the son of Tom and Brooke Raymond.
MASON RICE, Weir — This former Red Rider held down multiple spots during his career under Tony Filberto.
The 5-11, 257-pounder shined at center and left guard, helping Weir to four consecutive playoff berths for the first time in school history.
Rice was honorable mention all-state, all-OVAC and second-team all-Valley.
Away from football, Rice is a member of the National Honor Society and chess club. He also competed in track.
Mason, who is the son of Tommy and Barbara Rice, will attend West Virginia State University.
ANDREW SIMONTON, John Marshall — This former Monarch helped pave the way for an impressive ground game under Rick Goodrich’s guidance.
The 6-2, 260-pounder was a mainstay at offensive tackle en route to two letters. He also lettered twice in baseball.
Along with sports, Simonton volunteers with Special Olympics and is a member of Knights of Pythias.
Andrew, who plans to attend West Liberty, is the son of Matt and Suellen Simonton.
HAYDEN STARCHER, University — This former Hawk caused all sorts of issues for opposing teams from his defensive end spot.
The 5-10, 178 pounder logged 170 tackles, including 39 for loss in 2017. He also had 14 sacks.
Starcher’s campaign was recognized by virtue of all-state second team. He was also all-OVAC and all-TRAC along with all-Area.
Starcher also earned letters in wrestling.
Headed to WVU, Hayden is the son of Victor Starcher and Cherise Starcher.
BENJAMIN STEELE, Clay-Battelle — This former CeeBee stood out at defensive tackle for Coach Ryan WIlson’s team.
The 5-10, 245-pounder was recognized as all-Mason Dixon Conference. He also competed in the West Virginia State Track Meet.
Also a standout in the classroom, Steele was a member of the National Honor Society, Leo Club, Class Officer and part of the Student Advisory Council.
Set to attend Fairmont State, Benjamin is the son of Steve and Elizabeth Steele.