WISE, Va. – The Virginia High School Coaches Association All-Star football game has showcased the state’s elite players since 1972 and has been played in Roanoke, Richmond, Blacksburg, Charlottesville, Lynchburg and Hampton. Now, the coalfields of Southwest Virginia will get a chance to host the marquee event. VHSCA clinic director Phil Robbins, Powell Valley National Bank CEO Leton Harding and Rick Colley from the Wise County Chamber of Commerce announced at a press conference Friday that the 2017 VHSCA All-Star Game will be held on Dec. 16 at Carl Smith Stadium on the campus of the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. Tyrod Taylor, Michael Vick, Julius Jones and Tiki Barber are among the players who competed in the contest following their senior seasons of high school. “I’ve been talking about doing this for five or six years with the coaches association and was finally able to pull it off,” said Robbins, an active member of the VHSCA and a former football coach at John Battle, Christiansburg and Powell Valley. “We’re very excited about having it in Southwest Virginia.”
The Inn at Wise will host a banquet for the athletes on Dec. 15 with former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer as the featured speaker. Cost of admission for the game the following day will be $7. UVa-Wise will also be the site of the VHSCA girls and boys basketball games for the second straight year on March 26, 2018. “The big deal of keeping these games here is going to be how many people we can attract to come to the games,” Robbins said. “Attendance is going to be a big factor. If Southwest Virginia shows that it will support these games, then we’ll be able to keep them here for hopefully, a long time. This isn’t something that can just come in here and be gone. We want to sustain this over a long period of time.”
The area has a long history in terms of the VHSCA All-Star football game. The legendary Ralph Cummins of Clintwood served on the same West coaching staff in 1974 as Herman Boone of T.C. Williams. The same Boone who was portrayed by Denzel Washington in the 2000 film “Remember the Titans.” Pennington’s Todd Kirk delivered a bone-crunching hit to Hampton’s Robert Banks in the 1983 game. Banks later starred at the University of Notre Dame and for the Cleveland Browns. Timmy Brown of Richlands intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble in leading the West to a win in 2004. Virginia High’s Alex Walls kicked two field goals in a 1998 game which featured nine future NFL players. Defensive back Sean Lucas of Abingdon (1985) and Powell Valley quarterback Brad Robbins (2005) had memorable performances and earned MVP honors.
Now, more memories will be made for local players and coaches, this time in front of the home folks. “This is truly a regional event,” Harding said. “We really want to make these people who come down [from throughout the state] feel welcome. … I would say that we probably have some football fanatics in this region, people who really come out and sponsor their local teams. We really need to encourage these fans to come to one last football game in 2017 and that will be the all-star game.”