On Saturday night at 7, some of the finest graduating talent in the Mountain State will make one last gridiron stand in the North-South Football Classic at Laidley Field.
On a rainy Monday on the campus of West Virginia State, coaches from both sides got a chance to start organizing their 35 players, and it must have felt a little like orchestrating a fantasy team.
This might be especially true for South coach Joe Dean and North coach Jodi Mote, who have had long tenures at Midland Trail and St. Marys, two Class A schools where large rosters and across-the-board talent are not the norm.
The clash of Class A coaches will be the first such matchup since 2001 when Danny Tennant of Parkersburg Catholic headed the North and Frank Spangler of Fayetteville coached the South.
Mote, who played in the game and has been a North assistant under Ravenswood coach Dick Sturm in 2011, said once the week begins, class affiliation goes by the wayside.
"One thing about it is you come down here and you learn that all football players are football players, regardless of class," Mote said. "I think the smaller schools want to prove that they can play with the larger schools and I think the larger schools want to prove that they're as good as people say they are, and as you've read about through the season."
Indeed, the week is a last go-round for a lot of players and there are activities and events throughout the week. But on Saturday, there will still be 35 players on each side trying to prove themselves one last time.
The chance begins in practice throughout the week. and Dean was impressed by the ability and his team's collective effort.
"This is a blast," Dean said. "They're a good group of young men, they're 35 of the best football players in the state - it's a joy. Then you get to work with some of the best coaches in the state, it's a great time.
"I think we need more footballs."