By Wes Wilson
For the Daily News
RED JACKET - Mingo Central’s Harless Stadium will play as the neutral host, yet again to another football game, but this time something a little different. The alumni of both Gilbert and Matewan High Schools will crack helmets and pads one final time at 7 p.m., Saturday night.
Many former players and coaches have signed up to be a part of the large event. Gordon Carter and Jerry Miller will lead the Lions in the game while Yogi Kinder and David Mark McCoy will guide the Tigers.
Gilbert’s oldest player, Drew Mounts will represent the GHS Class of 1983 and has shown just as much excitement as anyone for the game. Mounts said, “I never thought I’d get to wear the purple and gold again. I remember the sick feeling I had after we lost to Duval in ‘82. I was one of the last players to walk off the field. When they announced this game, I had no doubt I would play. The first thing that came to mind was getting the opportunity to be on the field at the same time with my brothers Brian, Jeff, Tommy, Paul and Daniel.”
Each brother challenged the next to be better than the one before him. Drew is no stranger to the game of football though, as he played 31 years ago as a Gilbert Lion, 4 years at West Virginia State, 4 years with the WV Lightning and 23 years in the Commode Bowl (an annual Thanksgiving Day Game held in Dunbar, WV).
A popular theme this weekend will be many first time visitors to the Mingo Central campus and James H. “Buck” Harless Stadium.
“My class (‘83) was the first to graduate from the new Gilbert High School,” said Mounts. “We thought that it was nice but I’ve heard Mingo Central is as nice as any in the state of West Virginia. The students there should appreciate what they have. I am friends with a few teachers and coaches there and I love the enthusiasm they have when it comes to Miners’ sports. I just hope the stands are as packed as previous Gilbert-Matewan games were. The fans need to understand the money raised this Saturday night, will benefit their children and the football program. I hope they realize that all of these players paid to play in this game.” “Most are traveling hundreds of miles from home and spending a lot of money on gas, hotels and food so that Mingo Central can do more for their players. I only wish that my father was still around to watch all his sons play. My brothers and I am honored to be playing in this game and will give everything we have in his memory. We know he’ll be in the stands in spirit. I’m sure other players from both teams will be playing for somebody that doesn’t have the opportunity to be at this game,” Mounts added.
On short glance of the two teams, the Tigers are a much younger team with more than half of their players coming from the 2000’s era of the school. Jacob Staton, one of the younger players in the game who attended both Matewan (2008-2011) and Mingo Central High Schools (2012) said things will be no different Saturday night than they have been before.
“Playing for Coach Kinder in high school was a tough but enjoyable experience, he was hard on his players but only expected the best, and I expect him to demand the same this Saturday out of all of us,” Staton said.
He also went on to say just how important this game is for Mingo Central, “This game means more than the 75 or 80 guys on the field, this is for everyone that supports MCHS; to show how football goes on more than the 4 years of high school. I’m sure every guy out there would give anything to be back out there on every Friday night. Most importantly, we want to play hard and show all the players and upcoming players for MCHS that they need to work hard and dedicate themselves like we did in school,” Staton added. Staton now works alongside Coach Yogi Kinder as an assistant to the Miners football team.
All proceeds from this game will go on to benefit the Mingo Central football team. Miner’s Assistant Coach, Joey Fields is the director of the alumni game and is extremely excited to have the event happen. He is also happy to be able to participate and play under Coach Kinder once again.
Before the consolidation in 2011, the Gilbert-Matewan rivalry was one of the better known around the Mountain State. The Tigers lead the series, 26-21-1 with many incredible games encapsulated in the 85-year span. If the final four games indicate anything, Saturday Night’s contest should be a great one as both teams split those four meetings from 2007-10.
Both schools had great football histories as Gilbert was the Class “A” 1995 State Champions; 21 Playoff Appearances; 6 “Final Four” Appearances; 7 Undefeated Regular Seasons. For Matewan, The Tigers were the 1993 Class “A” State Champions; 20 Playoff Appearance; 3 State Runner-Ups; 8 “Final Four” Appearances; 4 Undefeated Regular Seasons. A large crowd is expected to be on hand as many folks will travel back home to see these two old teams meet one final time.
Tickets will be sold at the Stadium Gates; Adults-$8, Students-$5, Kids Under 5-Free. Lastly, at the game, the MCHS Football Boosters will sell limited edition T-Shirts commemorating the alumni game.