VIENNA-The Christmas season has passed, but it was a 'time for giving back' for 12 West Virginia University football players as they joined more than 300 area residents to take part in the 15th annual Steak & Burger Dinner at the Grand Point Conference and Reception Center in Vienna Thursday night.
"It's always a good thing, especially for those of us from the area, to come back and give something back to the people who gave so much to us when we played here," former-Parkersburg South standout Cody Nutter explained. "There are a lot of familiar faces of people who helped me get to where I am today."
Nutter, who will enter his senior season as the Mountaineers' two-time returning starter at long snapper, was joined by former-Big Reds Josh Jenkins and Matt Lindamood as well as Michael Molinari, who was a standout placekicker at Parkersburg South before heading to Morgantown last fall as a walk-on for the old gold and blue.
Photos by Jeff Baughan
West Virginia University's, and former Parkersburg South player, Cody Nutter poses with Dylan Cosner, left, and Ben Stark during Thursday's Boys & Girls Club Steak and Hamburger Dinner. Nutter was one of four Mountaineers with Parkersburg ties who attended. To see more pictures of this event, go to cu.newsandsentinel.com
"It's good to be back in the area," said Jenkins, a two-year starter at left guard. "It's great for the kids. It's also nice to see the number of players who take time out of their busy schedules to come down here and give something back to our kids."
In addition to the local foursome, Julian Miller, Keith Tandy, Tyler Urban, Tyler Bitancurt, Pat Edgar, C.J. Huffman, Ricky Kovatch and Chad Snodgrass made the trek down from Morgantown. Three players-Tavon Austin, Bradley Starks and Casey Vance-were unable to make the trip due to class requirements on Friday.
Six of the players attended last year's dinner.
Making their first visit were Bitancurt, the team's starting placekicker, offensive linemen Egar and Snodgrass, defensive lineman Huffman, reserve fullback Kovatch and Molinari.
"We were hoping to have 15 players," said Mike Flanagan, the executive director of the Parkersburg Boys and Girls Club. "Dale Wolfley got things rolling last Friday and Donnie Tucker got with me on Monday to let me know the players would be coming."
A total of 28 corporate tables were sold ($1,000 apiece) with another $3,500 returned in donations. A number of tickets were sold to individuals as well bringing the total number in attendance to more than 330 people.
As usual an auction was held following the dinner with dozens of Mountaineer items being put up for bid. Fred Voshel again handled that part of the program with proceeds from that sale expected to push the total amount brought in by the affair to $38,000.
Among those items was a Gator Bowl football signed by WVU head coach Bill Stewart and Florida State coach Bobby Bowden as well as a football signed by senior running back Noel Devine.
"It takes a lot of cooperation to put on an event like this," explained Allan Johnson, who handles the Wood County Middle School athletic program. "First, the coaches at WVU have to agree-and trust me they get a lot of requests like this every year-and then you have to have people here committed to its success and we have that with Mike (Flanagan)."
Johnson, a former-strength coach at WVU during Don Nehlen's tenure, teamed up with Flanagan to begin the dinner 15 years ago.
"I knew it would be successful because of how big Mountaineer fever is in this area," added Johnson. "And, I knew how much (Gale) Catlett and (Don) Nehlen like this area."
Following the auction fans could have one item signed by the players and Chapman Printing provided action shots of each player that were going to be autographed.