Weekend Wrap: Magnolia Battling Back After a Tough Start

NEW MARTINSVILLE – .Nobody needed a victory more than Magnolia, which was sitting at 2-3 entering Friday’s game with Monroe Central.

The Blue Eagles got it.

Behind Drew Keller, who had a monster game, Magnolia beat the Seminoles 32-8.

It was just what the doctor ordered for a team that, for all intents and purposes, was nine points from being 4-1 or even 5-0 entering the game.

Keller had 148 yards and a touchdown – no to mention a game-changing 94-yard run on which he was brought down at the Monroe Central 1 – an interception he returned 40 yards for a touchdown and a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter.

“He was a touchdown reception from hitting for the cycle,” coach Mark Batton said after the game.

It sets up an interesting scenario for the next couple of weeks.

Magnolia plays host to Weir this week ahead of a key game at St. Mary’s (currently 5-0 and coming off a huge victory against previously undefeated Williamstown). Williamstown, of course, got a late field goal to knock off Magnolia 15-14 in Week 2.

That, combined with a season-opening 14-7 loss to a talented Linsly team and a 27-20 loss to Wheeling Central (only loss is to powerhouse Madonna) had Magnolia behind the eight ball.

The Central game was especially crushing, after Magnolia had lined up for a potential game-winning field goal only to have it blocked and returned for a touchdown.

“I’m just proud of the kids for bouncing back from a devastating loss, having a good week of practice and then play well,” Batton said.

Keller said the playoffs have already started for a Magnolia team that is used to winning football games.

“Most teams start the playoffs after Week 10,” the senior returning all-stater said. “We know we are in a situation where we have to win every game just to have a chance to make the playoffs. That’s the way we are approaching it. For us, the playoffs started tonight and we know what we have to do.”

If you are planning on buying a lottery ticket, you might want to call on Wheeling Central’s Mike Young.

He is dialing up all the right numbers in the Maroon Knights’ 5-1 start.

Central has victories of 1, 6, 7 and now 2 points, the last three coming in a row.

The latest thriller was the Maroon Knights keeping a determined Kiski team out of the end zone on what would have been a game-tying two-point conversion with 22 seconds left. Central also held Kiski without a point on two trips inside the 10 in the second half.

Wheeling Park and Morgantown had little trouble before their tune-ups for this week’s meeting in Morgantown.

For the record, Morgantown’s Chazzy Thomas, who is a leading candidate for the Kennedy Award at this point, went off for a Monongalia County-record 386 yards and six touchdowns in a 52-21 victory against Dubois Area High School..

Morgantown’s lone loss was to Martinsburg’s dynastic juggernaut earlier this year at Cobourn Field in Martinsburg.

Park had little trouble handling East Liverpool 52-0, on 7 of 10 passing for 170 yards and three touchdowns by Zach Phillips and 90 yards and two touchdowns from Bryce Ingram.

Offensive Player

of the Week

Chimechi Oparanozie


  • The junior running back had 185 yards and three touchdowns in the Cadets’ 26-20 victory against the Columbus Crusaders on Saturday.

Defensive Player

of the Week

Kage Rohde


  • The returning all-state linebacker had 10 tackles, two for a loss and forced a fumble in the Blue Eagles’ 32-8 victory against Monroe Central.

Ground Gainers

  • Madonna’s Eliott Nero rushed for 176 yards and two touchdowns in a 55-0 victory against Bridgeport.
  • Buckeye Trail’s Travis Pontius rushed for 149 yards on 25 carries in a 32-21 loss to Shenandoah.
  • Shadyside’s Eric Howell rushed for 124 yards and three scores and teammate Chris Littrell rushed for 136 yards and a touchdown in a victory against Beallsville
  • Weirton’s Kam Davis rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-23 victory against Oak Glen.
  • Toronto’s Chez Glen had 116 yards and Blaze Glen added 104 in a 58-13 victory against St. John.
  • Parker Henry had 101 yards and a touchdown in the Maroon Knights’ 20-18 victory against Kiski.

Aerial Attack

  • Paden City’s Zach Heasley completed 20 of 34 attempts for 230 yards and two touchdowns in a 20-19 loss to Cameron.
  • Martins Ferry quarterback Brian Styles completed 11 of 13 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown in a 35-7 victory against Union Local.
  • Beallsville’s Chase Mercer completed 13 of 29 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns in a 55-20 loss to Shadyside.
  • John Marshall’s Noah Martin completed 14 of 24 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown in the Monarchs’ loss to Musselman.

Good Hands Team

  • Wheeling Park’s Eric Banks caught four passes for 125 yards and a touchdown in the Patriots’ 52-0 victory against East Liverpool.
  • Paden City’s Devin Price caught five passes for 110 yards and a touchdown in a 20-19 loss against Cameron.
  • Beallsville’s Derek Lucas caught five passes for 90 yards and a score in a 55-20 loss to Shadyside.

Mr. Everything

  • Magnolia’s Drew Keller rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown and also returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown and recovered a fumble in a victory against Monroe Central.
  • Madonna’s Ross Comis rushed for 174 yards and three touchdowns and completed 6 of 8 passing for 136 and two scores in a 55-0 victory against Bridgeport.
  • Cameron’s Logan Routt threw for 119 yards and rushed for two scores in a 20-19 victory against Paden City.

Wrecking Crew

  • Paden City’s Spencer Billings had 15 tackles, including 10 solo stops, in the Wildcats’ loss to Cameron.
  • John Marshall’s Trevor Hardesty had 12 tackles in a 34-7 loss to Musselman.
  • Indian Creek’s Tyler Lathem had eight tackles including a blocked field goal he returned for 95 yards and a touchdown in a 31-13 loss to Bellaire.
  • Wheeling Central’s Joey John had 11 tackles and recovered a fumble and teammate Tom Watkins had 11 tackles and a sack in the Maroon Knights’ 20-18 victory against Kiski.
  • Martins Ferry’s Luke Staub had nine tackles in a 35-7 victory against Union Local.
  • Toronto’s Drew Lowery had 12 tackles in a 58-13 victory against St. John.
  • Nick McCartney had nine tackles, two for a loss, in a 27-23 victory against Oak Glen.
  • Madonna’s Travis Brown had eight tackles in the Blue Dons’ victory against Bridgeport.
  • Park’s Eric McCave had 11 tackles in a victory against East Liverpool.