INSTITUTE, W. Va. —Alec Stanley started in a lot of games for the Point Pleasant High School football team.
This week, with the annual North-South Football Classic, it’s the one he has aspired for the most.
Stanley — a standout starting two-way lineman for the Big Blacks — will represent PPHS for the South squad as part of the WCHS-TV FOX 11 North-South Classic, which is set for Saturday night at Laidley Field in Charleston.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Stanley is Mason County’s only selected player, and marks the third consecutive contest in which a Point Pleasant player has been chosen.
Stanley, speaking on Tuesday during Media Day activities at West Virginia State University, said he is grateful for the opportunity to take the gridiron one last time.
“This is a huge accomplishment and I’m so thankful to have this opportunity,” he said. “As a freshman, I always looked up to my captains. They got to play in the North-South game. I walk into the locker-room (at Point Pleasant) and I see all the pictures of the past players that have played for the North and South for Point Pleasant. It’s something I’ve strived for throughout my entire career.”
Stanley said he has been practicing with the first-team offense and second-team defense — with the expectation that he will start at offensive right guard on Saturday night.
Stanley spent his final three seasons starting on the offensive line, and of the two, prefers the “O”.
“I’m definitely more familiar and comfortable at offensive line,” he said. “I’ve gone against some big defensive linemen and the North team has big linemen. So it will be a challenge, but I’m looking forward to it. We have some of the best runners on our team and as far as passing, our quarterbacks are great and can put the ball where it needs to be.”
The two teams arrived at West Virginia State on Sunday, and have had two-a-day practices before today (Friday, June 17).
Although it has only been a few practices, Stanley said South’s offensive front is in sync.
“I feel our offensive line has good chemistry already, and that’s something special that you don’t usually get in only a couple of days. We’ve practiced two or three days, we look at each other, give the nod and that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.
Stanley — standing six-foot one-inches tall and weighing 265 pounds — will wear the number-72 for the (South) Cardinals.
Harvey Arms of Man coaches the Cardinals, while Ryan Wilson of Clay-Battelle heads up the North Bears club.
Both coaches conducted a joint press conference on Tuesday to talk about their teams.
The players participating offered those traditional good-natured jabs, as Stanley said he has played against most of his South teammates.
“It’s been fun. We talk about our past competition and things between us all and laugh a little bit, pick on each other a little bit,” he said. “A lot of the guys here I got to play against, but there’s no hard feelings. We all like each other and we’re all part of a team now. That’s what this is all about. Being competitive, but now that we’re all on the same team, we’re all working together to be competitive against the North.”
Stanley said he wants to keep the South’s winning streak intact — which is at seven games.
“South hasn’t lost in like seven years. I plan on doing my part to keep that (streak) going,” he said. “I want to represent Point Pleasant and Mason County and play my best in this game.”
Speaking of winning streaks, Stanley — in blocking for the Big Blacks’ backs — knows all about that.
Point Pleasant has not lost in the regular season in three years, as that streak stands at 33 games entering this fall.
Stanley started for teams that won 11 games in 2013 and 10 tilts in 2014, as both squads reached the Class AAA state quarterfinals.
Last year, Stanley’s senior season, the Big Blacks boasted a 12-1 overall record — and advanced to the Class AAA state semifinals.
In all four years at Point Pleasant playing for head coach Dave Darst, and all four years at the AAA level, Stanley competed in the state playoffs.
He was one of the primary blockers for a Big Blacks’ offense that amassed a massive 5,009 rushing yards and 84 touchdowns in 2015.
“I have the most respect for Coach Darst,” said Stanley. “He’s taken any football program he has been a part of and turned it into a winner. All three years that I started for football, we went undefeated (in regular season). He builds players and the coaching staff has a sense of foreshadowing that they know what’s to come and they do well with preparation for that.”
Now, Stanley makes his final preparations for his final game.
He will be attending West Virginia University on a three-year United States Army scholarship, and will join the Army ROTC program in addition to studying biometric engineering.
“It’s been so special to be part of Point Pleasant High School,” said Stanley. “The community backs every one of the players. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of community driving an hour to Charleston to come watch me play. Being the only player from Point Pleasant, that’s very special to me.”
Last year, Point Pleasant quarterback Aden Yates and defensive end Jon Peterson played in the game.
Two years ago, Chase Walton represented the Big Blacks as a running back — the same Saturday night that Wahama’s Kane Roush racked up the Rat Thom Award, which is given to the “Top South Cardinals Player”.
Stanley said simply “it’s truly been a blessing to have this opportunity to play.”
And indeed, the North-South affair is hopefully his finest three hours.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106