PARKERSBURG -Ritchie County football coach Mike Dawson isn't too fond of losing. Even in an all-star game setting, he will display his competitive side.
Dawson will serve as head coach for the West Virginia squad in tonight's 19th annual Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis Football Classic, which begins at 7 p.m. at Don Drumm Stadium in Marietta.
"My dad use to say if winning didn't matter, they wouldn't keep score," Dawson said. "They would just have a timer and just play for an hour. I've always been taught that. I don't like losing - I would rather have the other team deal with it."
Dawson understands the real purpose of the game is to raise money to find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis.
"I hope these kids can go away from this with a really good feeling about their high school careers, and are able to take away a positive experience," Dawson continued.
During one of his talks after practice this week, Dawson explained to his players that neither team at least year's BACF game scored an offensive touchdown when West Virginia shut out Ohio 14-0 for its second consecutive victory. The Mountain State squad leads the series, 12-6.
With only five practices to prepare, Dawson can't guarantee what kind of offense will be on display tonight.
"As far as a system, I'm not sure if the coaches have the system," Dawson laughed. "It's kind of a befuddled mess. As a coaching staff, we have kind of piece-mealed this together."
What began as a serious concern when only 18 individuals committed to play initially, the roster has taken a turn for the better. The finalized list features 25 players, including six from Ravenswood.
At quarterback, West Virginia will feature both Wirt County's Taylor Campbell and Ravenswood's Dustin DeRito. Campbell finished his senior year throwing for 1,352 yards and 16 touchdowns. DeRito's dual-threat capability resulted in 1,107 yards through the air and rushed for another 1,011 yards while scoring 18 TDs.
"DeRito has a lot better arm than I thought he would," Dawson said. "For not growing up in a passing offense, he throws pretty well. Campbell is really accurate, so we'll see."
The running backs will consist of Ritchie County's Reno Jackson (1,236 yards rushing), Ravenswood's Jeremy Lawrence (928), Ritchie County's Darrenger Goff (678) and St. Marys' Cole White (527).
One question mark for West Virginia rests with its wide receivers. Only two are listed with Wirt County's JT Nemeth (36 receptions for 716 yards) and Calhoun County's Nate Cosgrove (29-437).
"We're having to rotate the backs to make a second and third receiver on the side," Dawson said.
Looking to create holes up front as offensive linemen are Paden City's Kyle Staton and Keith Hardbarger, Tyler Consolidated's Slade Dillon and Dakota Allen, Ravenswood's Chad Burrows, Wirt County's Lane Boyce and Eric Young, and Doddridge County's Cole McKinney.
That same cast of characters are scheduled to play in the trenches on the defensive side of the ball.
In addition to lining up at tight end and defensive end, St. Marys' Justin Nichols will serve as one of the team's long snappers.
Pegged as linebackers are Doddridge County's Chris Satterfield, Parkersburg's Josh Lewis, Ravenswood's Kyle Griffith and Tyler Newell, Parkersburg's Carl Boyles, Tyler Consolidated's Evan Cline and Ritchie County's Chazz Jones.
Providing pass coverage in the defensive secondary are Jackson, DeRito, Nemeth, Cosgrove and Lawrence.
"We have a lot of those middle-skilled players - the fullback and linebacker type kids," Dawson said. "You can try to talk them into being a lead blocker, but they have no experience at all playing the pass or playing the secondary.
"It's hard asking kids to play in an all-star game, and having them make the ultimate sacrifice by moving them to an uncomfortable position."
On special teams, Ravenswood's Brandon Cunningham will handle the kicking duties.
"This kicker can hit it," Dawson said. "I know I'm not an expert on kicking, but he has a really live leg."