WILLIAMSTOWN - A season ago, Magnolia lost a tough season-opener to Linsly, bounced back with an impressive victory against Williamstown and eventually advanced all the way to the West Virginia Class A state semifinal.
Well, after another tough-to-swallow loss to the Cadets last Friday night, Coach Mark Batton's Blue Eagles hope to right the ship again against the Yellowjackets this week and eventually get one step farther than in 2012, but only time will. A victory this week could go a long way with a long, tough schedule ahead.
Magnolia's 14-7 loss to Linsly featured a late fumble near the Cadets' goal line with just three minutes to play that could have knotted the count and maybe even helped change the end result. However, that was not to happen and the Blue Eagles will be in search of their first victory this week.
Jacob Brill and Magnolia face Williamstown on the road tonight.
"It was another tough loss to Linsly," Batton said. "Last year was just real tough and last week it was a slugfest. I can tell you that we were a little disappointed in our offense and we are looking to improve a lot this week. Defensively we only gave up a couple of big plays, but Linsly was just a big, physical and good football team.
"We started working on the offense again on Monday in practice, and while we know turnovers are a big part of the game and we hope to create some, we definitely do not expect them to lose as many as they did against Tyler Consolidated."
Coach Terry Smith's squad lived very dangerously against the Silver Knights but managed to escape with victory. Williamstown fumbled the ball away six times before putting the finishing touches on a 27-14 victory.
Leading the way for the 'Jackets was senior quarterback Jake Tracewell, who not only ran for 72 yards and a score but also finished with 121 yards through the air and two more touchdowns.
When the third-year starter drops back to pass, he is usually looking for Hunter Neely.
Helping Williamstown roll is a three-headed backfield tandem in Dakota Watson, Trace Hart and David Hastings.
"This is a typical Williamstown team that has an excellent quarterback in Tracewell and a real speedster in Watson," Batton mentioned. "And to get them going, they have a veteran offensive line. I know they struggled a little with fumbles last week, but I know Coach Smith will have that taken care of for this game."
First-year Magnolia quarterback Jacob Brill did a Yeoman's job for Big Blue as well, rushing for 30 yards while hitting 5 of 12 passes for 122 more and a score. The Eagles were never able to get their rushing attack untracked, finishing with just 76 yards on 34 carries.
Drew Keller ended the night with 13 carries for 37, while Kage Rohde had seven for 17. One bright spot was senior Eric Smith, who hauled in four catches for 127 yards and the score. But overall, the Magnolia offense generated just 198 yards, 32 less than Linsly.
"They are a real talented team with a lot of players back from last year," Smith said. "And they are always tough on the line on both sides of the football.
"We were real fortunate to get away with a victory last week after fumbling the ball away six times, and I know that is something I have never been involved with. But Jake (Tracewell) had a good game, and as a veteran we expect a lot out of him. And he usually produces."