Wheeling Central trio looks to lead W.Va, end on top

BETHANY — It has been an amazing past two years for Wheeling Central football. After all, the Maroon Knights are the two-time defending state champions in West Virginia Class A.

But for a big percentage of high school seniors, after the final second strikes zero, their playing days are a thing of the past.

For three former Wheeling Central standouts, they’ll have one final opportunity to write another chapter in their prep career as Luke Duplaga, Anthony Robbins and Vinny Mangino will dress for the 74th-annual OVAC Rudy Mumley All-Star Game on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.

All athletes dream of holding up the hardware after the final game of the season. Those same athletes also dream of playing in such a prestigous all-star game. It comes as no surprise that all three Maroon Knights are living the dream.

“It meant a lot to me because I was looking forward to this since my freshman year,” Robbins said about his reaction when he was asked to play in the annual event. “So I think it’s awesome that I can play in this game.”

Robbins — who was named first team all-state in 2018 — is excited to represent the Maroon Knights one more time. He also hasn’t forgotten his roots.

“I think it’s awesome,” Robbins said. “It means a lot where I came from Bishop (Donahue). With me and Vinny playing in this, it means a lot.”

Mangino, who earned all-state honors for three consecutive seasons, is ready to run out of the locker room and represent the Maroon Knights one final time and also play along side his two teammates.

“It’s great,” Mangino said. “It’s great that we can show Central, we’re here for the school. I like to represent them. We’ve got good kids that have come out of the school. They’re fun guys and good athletes. It’ll be a lot of fun on the field.”

For Duplaga, he knew growing up how big of a deal the OVAC All-Star game was. After all, everybody in his family who played before him received the phone call to participate.

“All of my brothers played in it so it was nice. It’s nice because I’m the last one going through,” Duplaga said. “It’s a tradition in my family and the school.

“These few years of football have probably been the best few years of football because we have had a lot of wins and not too many losses. I count this as a win being in the game.”