Football fever: Alumni host Countdown to Kickoff

MORGANTOWN — Somebody needs to put a football in Ryder Partridge’s hands — quick.

He just might be a natural-born running back.

The 4-year-old was doing a good job of weaving around people Sunday afternoon at Buffalo Wild Wings.

He had to break for daylight because there were some things he needed to see.

“Whoa, look at the tuba!” he sang out.

That was in response to WVU’s famed “Pride of West Virginia” Mountaineer Marching Band setting up in the parking lot of the popularly eatery at University Town Centre.

“Whoa, look at the beard!” he whooped again.

That was in response to the bushy one sported by Mountaineers’ Mascot Trevor Kiess, who was also there in his buckskins and signature long rifle.

Sightings of the two entities in the same place at the same time could only signify one thing: That WVU football is back upon the land.

You had the band, you had the buckskins and you had a tailgate buffet for the family friendly event.

The No. 17 Mountaineers tee it up against Tennessee at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Charlotte, N.C., and the game will be broadcast nationally on CBS. The WVU Alumni Association’s University Chapter provided the opening act with a “Countdown to Kickoff” tailgate.

Proceeds went to fund scholarships sponsored by the chapter.

“We do a lot of outreach work in the community,” said Ed Cole, chapter president.

That includes toy drives, literacy programs and annual donations to Rosenbaum Family House.

It also means, said Cole, grinning, everyone cheering for everyone’s favorite team.

Is this the year Dana Holgorsen’s finally takes the Big 12 Championship?

“I think it might be,” he said. “I just it just might be.”

Chris Partridge (Ryd-er’s dad) was a lot more definitive.

He even bestowed a nickname for Will Grier, the Mountaineers’ Heisman-hopeful quarterback, who was sidelined last season after breaking a finger on his throwing hand during an end zone lunge.

“This is it, for the Big 12,” said Partridge, who was also accompanied by his wife, Mica, and other son, Brice, who is 2.

“We have ‘Touchdown Willie.’ ”

About those lunges: Should the QB have to scramble, and should he get tackled, Partridge suggests an OK sign, of sorts — from the player to the fans.

“He could wave to us,” he said. “And wiggle his fingers.”

There was no wiggling from Mark Greskevitch – he sat perfectly still while “Miss Pockets” — area actress Melissa Ryan — painted an intricate “flying WV” log on the side of

his face.

If the handiwork fades by next Saturday, no matter, he said. He’ll still represent his Mountaineer pride in the Tar Heel State.

“Oh, yeah, I’ll be there. We’re driving down for it.”

He hopes to witness the opening drive of Grier’s trek to the Heisman, he said.

“I don’t know if he’ll win it,” Greskevitch said, “but he’ll be a definite contender.”

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