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Football Lookahead: Plenty of Respect Doled out Between Magnolia, Wheeling Central

September 26, 2013
By DAVE MORRISON , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

It isn't what you'd call a classic rivalry, as close rivalries go, but there is little doubt that Magnolia-Wheeling Central is developing into one, even if it is just in the second year of the contract.

If the coaches could only get past the Mutual Admiration Society that has developed as well.

Don't expect that to happen.

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The Blue Eagles won’t get much of a rest when they pay a visit to Wheeling Central.

It's sincere.

"At Magnolia, we have a great amount of respect for what (Central) coach (Mike) Young and the coaching staff and the team has done," Blue Eagles coach Mark Batton said. "They are always competitive and very talented and respected."

Young was no less admiring.

"Coach Batton and his staff do an excellent job," he said. "We played a close one with them last year (won by Magnolia) and it has turned into a bit of a rivalry since we are both (Class) A schools and we play in football, basketball and baseball."

Both teams are still playing for bigger fish down the road, after bouncing back from respective tough losses early in the season.

Magnolia has rebounded nicely after starting out 0-2 with season-opening losses to Linsly (14-7) and the following week in a heartbreaking 15-14 loss to Williamstown.

Since, the Blue Eagles have victories against traditional rivals Tyler Consolidated and River.

"To start out 0-2, I'm proud of the way the kids responded and have come together," Batton said. "We weren't happy with the situation we were in, but we've played well the last two weeks with two wins against two rivals."

In those two victories, Magnolia has scored 88 points while giving up 21.

"They've put a lot of points on the board lately, so their offense is starting to gel," Young said. "We have to control the football and take every opportunity we have to score points on every possession, because we know they can score."

Obviously, all-staters Drew Keller and Kage Rohde are doing their thing in the backfield. Young sites an overlooked part of the offense that is starting to come to fruition near the midpoint of the season: Quarterback Jacob Brill.

Last week in a 48-14 victory against River, Brill completed 14 of 20 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns.

"Obviously they have two quality backs (Keller and Rohde) and Brill is a good quarterback," Young said. "He gives them another option. He's been playing really well."

"We're proud of Jacob and the job he has done," Batton said. "He played behind two really good quarterbacks in Justin Fox and Tanner Hanna. He picked up a lot and he's put it to good use."

He also has a new, yet old, option in Eric Smith, who did not play football during his sophomore and junior seasons. He caught six passes for 119 yards and a touchdown last week. Kyle Ritz added five catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns.

Central rebounded nicely last Saturday with a 26-21 victory against Linsly at Wheeling Island Stadium.

Quarterback Parker Henry is playing better with each start after missing last season with an injury. He had a team-best 89 yards rushing in Saturday's victory against Linsly. Teammate C.J. Burch had 88.

"Henry and Burch are a couple of quality backs," Batton said. "We have to get to them before they get going. We have to concentrate on reading our keys. It's a good offense they run. It's Wing-T out of the shotgun, so we need to tackle them before they get going."

Somebody is going to come out of Saturday's 7:30 p.m. kickoff with a nice victory.

You can bet the Mutual Admiration Society will remain intact.

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