On Saturday, January 11, a night when the weather would have been considered warm even for a football game, student-athletes, family members, coaches and sports fans from all over the Mid-Ohio Valley gathered at the Parkersburg Art Center to participate in the first-ever Mid-Ohio Valley Football Awards. Sponsored by a dynamic organization named MOV2Go, this event was of a quality rarely seen in our area. Students, coaches, and whole teams from 84 schools were up for seventeen awards. But whether they actually won an award, every person in attendance was in for a phenomenally entertaining evening.
It all began at 5:00 pm with a red-carpet welcome for all nominees. Each was introduced and given a professional photo opportunity in keeping with the celebrity status each enjoys as a football player in this sports-loving region. Once through that gauntlet, they were treated to a panoply of high-resolution photographs of themselves in action on the football field that spanned the entire first floor of the venue. Amidst the action shots, though, was a tribute to Alex Miller, a student from Roane County High School and a member of their football team, who passed away tragically during a football game this fall. The young man was recognized in a poignant video and speech during the awards as well.
Once all the guests of honor made their entrance, the festivities moved upstairs to the third floor. The decorations in the grand ballroom were spectacular, as was the sumptuous banquet of roast chicken breast, steamed vegetables, redskin potatoes, ciabatta rolls, and gourmet cupcakes. No expense was spared to make the attendees feel special.
All appetites satisfied, the time came to hand out the hardware, so to speak. Hosted by Jeff Totten, founder of MOV2Go; Ohio State great Jimmie Bell; and West Virginia University legend Major Harris, the program was live-streamed on MOV2Go.net. Before the awards were given out, though, the crowd was pleased to hear motivational speeches from the two celebrity guest presenters. Mr. Bell spoke of how all people need to take ownership of their own lives while Mr. Harris used his life as an example of how true success comes not from when we succeed but from how we respond after we fail.
The first awards were for special teams players. For those not versed in football terminology, special teams are all parts of the team that are not offense or defense, such as punters, kickers, and kick returners. The region’s Outstanding Punter was John McConnell from Morgantown High School, while the Outstanding Kicker was Tri-Valley High School’s Kaden Bay. Finally, Evan Gandee of Warren High School was recognized as the Outstanding Kick Returner. At the end of the evening, Mr. McConnell was also named Outstanding Special Teams Player.
One note to those who are puzzled by the fact that a student from Morgantown High School, clearly not in the MOV, won an award. MOV2Go, who compiled the awards, considered students from all local schools as well as any teams from the conferences in which those schools compete. So players from schools as far-flung as Beckley and Huntington and Wheeling were in the competition.
Next came the defensive awards. The first award, Outstanding Defensive Lineman, went to C. J. Wade from Parkersburg High School. The Outstanding Linebacker was Belpre’s Nick Godfrey. To the surprise of no one who followed local football, Brandon Penn of Parkersburg South High School earned the accolade of Outstanding Defensive Back. Sawyer Koons of Trimble High was chosen as the Defensive Player of the Year.
The final position awards, offensive, were made up of Isiah Jones of Fort Frye as Outstanding Lineman, Reece Perkins of John Glenn as Outstanding Receiver, Tyler Consolidated’s Mark Rucker as Outstanding Running Back, and Warren’s Kurt Taylor as Outstanding Quarterback. Receiving Offensive Player of the Year was Alex Dunlevy, a quarterback for Wheeling Park High School.
At this point, the evening changed pace with a video tribute to the aforementioned Alex Miller. Following this, Danny Bush from Roane County High School was given the People’s Choice Award. Mr. Bush gave a moving tribute to his late friend.
Following this were several individual awards, beginning with Academic Player of the Year, which went to Griffin Devericks of Doddridge County High School. After this, the Conference Cup went to the Little Kanawha Conference, based on the fact that the LKC placed four teams in the playoffs, including Doddridge County High, which made it all the way to the state finals. Next, Bobby Burnside of Doddridge County was named Coach of the Year.
Before the All-Around Player of the Year was named, Coach Mike DeVol received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Coach Devol has coached in the MOV at a number of schools for over thirty years. It is an indicator of the quality of his work and his person, that the valley is dotted with coaches who were once his players. In his acceptance speech, he spoke eloquently of his philosophy that coach is just another word for teacher, specifically a teacher of life skills.
Winding up the evening, the last award was given to the young man who was chosen as the All-Around Player of the Year. This honoree was chosen based on his impact in all aspects of the game—offense, defense, and special teams. The recipient of this was practically a foregone conclusion, in that Parkersburg South’s Brandon Penn was quite simply the most dominant offensive and defensive player in this region, if not in the entire state of West Virginia.
The evening was nothing short of a resounding success, thanks to the herculean efforts of MOV2Go and its founder, Jeff Totten. Nothing was overlooked in the effort to make this one of the most memorable events in the history of not only MOV sports but of the Mid-Ohio Valley as a whole. Mr. Totten’s organization, a non-profit that allows students from all around the area to create high-quality web-based video content and live broadcasts, is a hidden treasure that will most certainly not be hidden for long.