MSAC doing away with Grid-o-rama scrimmages
CHARLESTON — Prep football fans who enjoy watching all the teams from one of the state’s best conferences in one convenient setting had better mark Aug. 23-24 on their calendars because that’s probably the last time they can catch the Mountain State Athletic Conference Grid-o-rama at University of Charleston Stadium.
The event, which has annually included all of the league’s Class AAA schools in a preseason scrimmage format over two days, appears to be coming to an end after this year’s installment. The Grid-o-rama began in 2005.
“It’s been a pretty good run, but not everything lasts,″ said Jim Hamric, the MSAC’s commissioner. “The main thing is that coaches don’t like to be told who they have to scrimmage with, especially with the dwindling number of teams (in Class AAA). It’s hard to match them up with somebody they’re not playing on their regular-season schedule — especially for teams that play all 10 of their games in the MSAC.
“They’re getting tired of matching up with the same people, the same rotations, and I hate that for Laidley Field because they’ve been really good to us. They’ve been a good partner and have been wonderful to us. It’s made good money for the conference. But it looks like it’s coming to a close, and everyone will probably miss it when it’s gone.″
This year’s Grid-o-rama opens at 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 23, with Spring Valley against Huntington High followed by Capital and Huntington High at 7 p.m. and Capital against Spring Valley at 8 p.m.. On Saturday, Aug. 24, the lineup features St. Albans and Woodrow Wilson at 10 a.m., George Washington and Cabell Midland at noon, Parkersburg and Riverside at 2 p.m. and South Charleston and Hurricane at 4 p.m.
When the Grid debuted in 2005, the MSAC stood at 15 schools, but currently has just 11. Each team is guaranteed two hours of scrimmage time against a member school (except on Fridays with the odd-numbered teams competing) and the rules were always a little more structured than a typical preseason workout, which coaches sometimes adjust on the fly.
Hamric said he and former Woodrow Wilson coach John H. Lilly, who’s now at Independence, came up with the idea for the MSAC Grid in the early 2000s and presented it to Fred Aldridge, then the league’s commissioner.
“John put it in my mind and I went to Fred with it,″ Hamric said, “and Fred liked it and presented it to the schools. Everyone liked it and thought it was great. Of course, that was back in the day when we had 15 schools.″
Aldridge died two years ago and was succeeded by Hamric as MSAC commissioner.
Hamric said the league is looking into perhaps replacing the Grid with a 7-on-7 football practice event, to be held either during the three-week approved summer practice period or during teams’ flex time workouts.
“We haven’t got it all ironed out yet,″ Hamric said. “We could invite more than just the MSAC schools, try to get as many from outside the area as we have inside our MSAC, maybe even some double-A schools.″