NEW MARTINSVILLE - For Magnolia, it's simple: Win, or forget about the West Virginia Class A playoffs.
The Blue Eagles (5-4), who have rode a roller coaster of a season, enter Friday night's game against winless Oak Glen tied with Bishop Donahue for 15th in the latest West Virginia Class A ratings.
Various scenerios suggest the Blue Eagles will still neeed help - likely from local teams - but that's for another day.
File photo by Scott McCloskey
Tyler Anderson and Magnolia hope to get a victory in the regular-season finale.
They must beat the Golden Bears, or it's all a moot point.
Magnolia coach Mark Batton says that's no sure thing, even as his club took it to a Steubenville Catholic team that was belting everyone the first seven weeks of the season last Saturday.
''They're a dangerous team,'' Batton said of the Bears. ''They're a fundamental, physical football team. They're young, and they've fallen on some hard times. I know they're hungry for that first win. They're hungry to get that Friday night.''
While Magnolia was shutting out the Crusaders, Oak Glen was getting schooled by West Virginia Class AAA Point Pleasant (as a lot of teams have).
Magnolia rode the legs of Drew Keller, who rushed for 202 yards on 38 carries and three touchdowns. The Blue Eagles threw it four times.
''That was Steubenville Central,'' Batton said. ''We felt we needed to keep the ball out of their hands. Drew did a tremendous job.
''That was a nice win Saturday night. We played with a lot of heart, lot of passion. We came out and laid it out on the field for 48 minutes.''
If they do that again, a season that has seen them lose four games - all of them nailbiters against teams that will be in the playoffs (aside from Linsly) - might well culminate with yet another postseason invitation.
''We'll concentrate on Oak Glen,'' Batton said. ''Our rivalry with Oak Glen goes back a long time. Clear back to the 70s. They want that win. They've battled against teams. Just seems like in a game somewhere something goes wrong and it snowballed a little bit. They're a hungry football team.''
The Blue Eagles plan to rename their football stadium from Alumni Field to ''Alumni Field at Bill Stewart Memorial Stadium,'' during halftime of the game in honor of Stewart, the late WVU football coach who graduated from the school in 1970.
Former WVU standout fullback Owen Schmitt is expected to speak.