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|Ferrum-E&H contest is this year’s Western Virginia Education Classic|
Ferrum College head football coach David Harper speaks at a press conference Friday at the Hank Norton Center to announce that this year’s Ferrum-Emory and Henry College football game would be the 2012 Western Virginia Roy Stanley Education Classic. (Staff Photo by Steven Marsh)
Monday, July 2, 2012
By STEVEN MARSH - Sports Editor
FERRUM -- Ferrum College's football team has a history of winning in the Western Virginia Education Classic.
In the Panthers' inaugural appearance in that game in 2006, they registered their last shut-out victory: a 42-0 whitewashing of former USA South Athletic Conference foe Shenandoah University at W.B. Adams Stadium.
When the Panthers return to the annual contest in September, it will be against a long-time rival -- Emory & Henry College.
Friday in a press conference at the Hank Norton Center, Ferrum officials and officials with Total Action Against Poverty (TAP), which stages the annual game, announced that Ferrum's 2012 season opener at Adams Stadium against the Wasps would be this year's contest.
And TAP has forged a partnership with the Roy Stanley Foundation, which presents need-based scholarships to Roanoke Valley high school students in honor of the late Roanoke sportscaster, whereby the game's new name is the Western Virginia Roy Stanley Education Classic.
The game, which was first played on Sept. 16, 2000 at the old Victory Stadium in Roanoke, gives financial support to TAP's Project Recovery, whose goal is to locate school dropouts and get them back into the educational system in order that they may earn their high school diplomas.
"Ferrum is about helping young people be successful in their lives without a doubt. It's a great place. Then, all of a sudden, we get to partner up with TAP and the Roy Stanley Foundation. I think this is a great marriage,' second year Panthers head coach David Harper said.
"I hope (this relationship) grows, I hope it gets stronger, I hope we cultivate it and really work and help young people stay in school and do the right things with their education,' Harper said. "...I'm excited about working together with Tap and the Roy Stanley Foundation. Whatever we can do through our football program, we'll do it and support it the best way we can.'
"The beneficiaries are the young people in our communities. That makes all the difference in the world to have colleges, institutions, cities, municipalities and foundations come together so that young people can continue their education and live fulfilled lives,' said Annette Lewis, senior vice president and director for TAP This Valley Works, Project Recovery.
Ferrum and Emory & Henry are long-time small-college gridiron rivals. The series between the two schools dates to 1985, Ferrum's first NCAA Division III football season.
The rivals have played 27 times, including once in the NCAA Division III playoffs, and Emory & Henry has won 18 of those games, including last fall's 41-12 victory in Harper's debut as head coach.
When the series started retired legendary coaches Hank Norton and Lou Wacker were in charge of their respective teams. Dave Davis, Harper and current Wasps head coach Don Montgomery also have been featured sideline leaders.
Emory & Henry brings a five-game winning streak in the series into this season's match-up.
When the game is played at Adams Stadium, it's usually Ferrum's best-attended football game. The fact that both schools have significant area alumni bases is a plus, said Roanoke City Councilman Sherman Lea, chairman of the classic's steering committee, who is a former referee in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) in which Emory & Henry competes.
"We thought this would be a good game on the field as well as from the public standpoint,' Lea said. "And Ferrum doesn't have to give up a home game to be (in the classic). That helps.'
"It's always been a great crowd, and now I think it will get more involved with what we're trying to accomplish -- to support TAP and the Roy Stanley Foundation. More people will get to see that.' Harper said.
Since the game's visit to Adams Stadium in 2006, it has been played at Salem Stadium and at the new William Fleming High School Stadium.
The only time Ferrum and Emory and Henry did not play since 1985 was 2006 because of what Harper termed "a scheduling problem.'
"I know a lot of people on the Emory staff and they heard it from their alumni and we heard it from ours too -- why aren't you playing? There was so much support for the game that we had to bring it back,' Harper said.
Harper enrolled as a student-athlete at Ferrum in 1984, the college's last junior college football campaign, and the two teams played a pre-season scrimmage at Emory.
"We took a school bus to Emory, played all day, then we ate bologna sandwiches on the way back home,' Harper recalled.
"When we made the transition to Division III, Emory was one of the only schools in the state that would continue to play us. I have such a respect for their school,' Harper said. For a couple of hours every September, I don't like them. It's a great rivalry.'