by Paul Adkins
Heartland News Service
For the first 15 years of the Hatfield-McCoy Senior Bowl, the annual all-star game was sponsored by Massey Energy.
After a one-year hiatus, another energy company — Cliffs Natural Resources — will serve as the game’s sponsor.
Ryan Thorn, a Cliffs Natural Resources Public Affairs Associate, recently presented a check for $5,000 to the Hatfield-McCoy Bowl. Accepting the check was Hatfield-McCoy Bowl Game Director and Mingo Central High School football coach Danny “Yogi” Kinder, West Virginia All-Star coach Joey Fields and Mingo Central Principal Deborah Harris.
Massey Energy was the Senior Bowl sponsor from 1996-2010 before Community Trust Bank became the sponsor last year.
Cliffs Natural Resources, formerly known as Cleveland-Cliffs, is a Cleveland, Ohio business firm that specializes in coal and iron ore mining.
The company employs around 4,000 and has around 28 percent of the nation’s iron-ore pellet market. In recent years, Cliffs expanded globally, leading to the acquisition of iron-ore properties in Brazil, Canada and Australia and coal properties in Australia as well as the United States.
Last year, Cliffs Natural Resources was added to the Fortune 500 list of companies with its ranking of 477 based on its performance in 2010.
This year’s Hatfield-McCoy Senior Bowl is scheduled for Saturday, July 28 and will be played for the first time at the James H. “Buck” Harless Stadium on the campus of Mingo Central High School in Newtown.
For the first 16 years, the game was played at Matewan High School’s Tiger Stadium but when Matewan closed and consolidated with Williamson, Burch and Gilbert high schools, the game was moved to the new facility this year.
Mingo Central played at the new stadium last fall during its first season of football.
Last year’s Hatfield-McCoy Bowl was the last played on the grass at the old Matewan field as the Kentucky All-Stars broke a seven-game losing streak to beat West Virginia in a 30-12 blowout win.
Since the game is being moved to Mingo Central, this year’s contest will also be the first Senior Bowl to be played on Field Turf.
And that’s a good thing.
In year’s past, heavy rains, either on game day or in the days leading up to the bowl game, often plagued the event, turning the grass to mud.
It won’t be a problem this time, however, with the artificial surface.
Despite last year’s drubbing, West Virginia still has a commanding 10-6 lead in the all-time series.
Kentucky won four out of the first five Hatfield-McCoy Bowls from 1996-2001, but West Virginia has gone 9-2 since.
The West Virginia All-Stars lost the 2003 game in a 40-36 shootout, then won every year from 2004-2010 until last year’s rout.
West Virginia will be coached this year by Mingo Central Joey Fields.
The Mingo Central community received a huge blow last month after the death of Miners’ assistant coach and former Senior Bowl coach John Fry, who passed away at just 24 years of age.
The Hatfield-McCoy Bowl takes its named from the infamous family feud along the West Virginia-Kentucky border. The feud was brought to the national and world spotlight back in May with the History Channel’s three-night mini-series, The Hatfields & the McCoys, starring Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton.
West Virginia all-star players are gathered from the southern coal field counties of Logan, Mingo, Boone, Wayne, Lincoln, Wyoming and McDowell.
In year’s past Logan County players from Logan, Man and Chapmanville have played major roles in the Mountain State team’s success.
Kentucky all-star players usually come from the eastern mountain counties of Pike, Martin, Floyd, Letcher, Johnson and Lawrence County. However, last year’s Bluegrass State team coach David Jones went outside of the area and brought in players from football-rich Bell County, Perry County, Clay County, Harlan County and other locations.
Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. on July 28.
The Senior Bowl can be heard on Williamson radio station WXCC 96.5 FM.
Kinder said the Hatfield-McCoy Bowl is a great event every year.
“This rivalry between the West Virginia and Kentucky All-Stars will give many of our athletes the opportunity to compete for scholarships, make lasting friends and take home some great memories,” Kinder said in a written statement.