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Football: Hoping for Home Field, Bears Must Beat Eagles

Magnolia must contain Hissam

October 28, 2011
By JOSH STROPE , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

NEW MARTINSVILLE - In the last season at Newell Memorial Stadium, Oak Glen is hoping for one more game.

In order to do that, the Golden Bears will have to go on the road to Alumni Field on Friday and beat a desperate Magnolia team that will need to win out in order to defend its Class AA championship.

Oak Glen is No. 10 in the Class AA standings and even a victory against Magnolia might not give the 8-1 Golden Bears a home playoff contest.

Oak Glen has faced five teams this season that are without a victory and its opponents are a combined 18-62. Indian Creek, the only team with a winning record to play Oak Glen, beat the Golden Bears.

Magnolia is 4-4 and saved its season for at least one week with a victory against Barnesville.

''We suffered a tough one at R.C. Byrd the week before and the guys really wanted that one,'' Magnolia coach Mark Batton said. ''We know we still have a chance at the playoffs with two good teams left (Oak Glen and No. 9 Grafton). We just have to play out all 10 and see what happens after that.''

Win or lose, Oak Glen is assured of staying in the top 16 but that is not what it is focused on.

''We have some long-term goals of making the playoffs and hosting a playoff game, but what is important to us is the game this week,'' Oak Glen Tony Filberto said. ''Magnolia has great tradition, as much as any team in the state.

''This is a similar team to the one last season in that they play hard. Not to mention, (Jayson) Keller really hurt us last year.''

Keller rushed for 138 yards and the lone Blue Eagles touchdown in a 7-6 victory last season.

The senior has been much of the focus this season. Last week against the Shamrocks, he rushed 35 times for 139 yards and a score.

''The field conditions weren't the greatest so we didn't throw the ball too much,'' Batton said. ''I didn't plan on running him that many times but he is such a tough runner that he doesn't mind and he wants the ball in his hands.''

One person's hands Batton would like to keep the ball out of is Oak Glen receiver Jeff Hissam.

Hissam's receiving numbers aren't anything to gawk at as Oak Glen runs mainly behind a big line with the combination of Lucas McDowell and Dylan Davis.

Hissam has six touchdowns on just 15 catches. Where he hurts you is in the return game.

The Golden Bears senior, in his first season on the team, has returned five kickoffs for scores, the latest coming in last Saturday's victory ag-ainst Steub-enville Catholic.

''Pretty good, huh? If he had a better coach, he'd probably have a couple more receiving touchdowns,'' Filberto joked. ''He is maybe as deadly a player as I've ever coached. The way he goes up and down the field is truly amazing. He has great speed and great balance.''

It's just another weapon that has helped Oak Glen to get where it is and one Batton and his staff is very wary of.

''We need to know where No. 15 is at all times,'' Batton said. ''We better know where he is when he catches the ball and before he catches the ball or he is going to break loose and take it a long way.''

According to Batton, every team the Blue Eagles have faced this season has been bigger along the line of scrimmage and Oak Glen will be no different.

That could spell big trouble as McDowell has been piling up the yardage, including a 273-yard, two-TD game against the Crusaders.

That line also did its damage on the defensive side as the Golden Bears defense piled up 14 sacks, led by six from Dylan Powell.

''We are playing pretty good defense right now, especially against the run,'' Filberto said. ''We are definitely going to need that to continue.''

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