INSTITUTE, W.Va. - The St. Marys contingent at North-South football practice here numbers six - three players and three coaches, including North head coach Jodi Mote.
The trio of players are backup quarterback/defensive back Andrew Cosper, fullback/defensive end-linebacker Derek Barnhart and offensive left guard Allen Pratt while two of Mote's assistants are from his own Blue Devils grid staff in Steve Barnhart, Derek's dad, and 83-year-old Bill Hanlin, a former St. Marys head coach himself.
Cosper was taking the snaps at Thursday morning's practice at West Virginia State with No. 1 quarterback Cookie Clinton of Martinsburg under the weather.
STEVE HEMMELGARN Special to The Times
Three St. Marys players and three Blue Devil coaches are at West Virginia State this week preparing for Saturday’s North-South Football Classic. They are, front row from left, players Derek Barnhart, Andrew Cosper and Allen Pratt, and, back row, coaches Steve Barnhart, North head coach Jodi Mote and Bill Hanlin.
"Cookie's a really good quarterback, so just to be here as his backup is a pretty good honor," said the 5-8, 170-pound Cosper. "This is a big-time game, so I'm real happy that I got a chance to play one more high school football game in a game like this.
"There's a lot of good players down here on both sides, and I like getting to know the guys on my team and making some new friendships this week."
Of course, North-South practice leads up to the annual West Virginia North-South Football Classic at 7 p.m. Saturday at Laidley Field in Charleston.
With Mote as North head coach, Cosper "knows the system that he's putting in on offense, so I can kind of help out Cookie a little bit if he has any questions about it since I ran the offense last year."
Cosper said he's "more of a defensive guy when I'm not playing quarterback, so I'll probably be at defensive back" Saturday night.
Barnhart played in last week's BACF Football Classic at Marietta, but this week, he's "meeting players from all around the state," including some he's read about, "but don't realize how really good they are until you see them in person."
Barnhart considers it "a big honor to be selected out of the whole state of West Virginia (to play in North-South game); that's pretty cool. And especially playing for coach Mote again - that just makes it even better. One more game with him and that's a wrap."
Then the 5-9, 200-pound Barnhart is off to Alderson-Broaddus to play football for the Battlers, but before that, he will see action Saturday at fullback as well as rotating in on defense at end and middle linebacker.
"We're having a great time down here, but practice is serious because we're all wanting to get the job done and get a win for the North," said Barnhart.
"It's a pretty big honor just being here with all these all-state players," said Pratt. "I mean if I get any playing time at all, I'll be happy."
The 6-0, 245-pound Pratt, though, did start on the offensive line for the 33-13 victorious W.Va. squad in last Friday's BACF game, noting that "our running backs (Barnhart and PHS' Adam Lindamood) were good, so they made me look good."
Pratt, who has been at left guard in practice this week, said, "All the guys (other players) down here are really nice and friendly, although playing with some of these guys instead of against them is a little different."
Pratt too likes that Mote is the man in charge of the North. "It makes it easier," said Pratt. "I understand the offense because it's our (St. Marys) offense." And with two other Blue Devil teammates on hand as well, "it's been a lot more comfortable than to come down here and play for somebody else," said Pratt, headed to Glenville State this fall to play football.