Magnolia Dreaming About Playoffs Again
By SHAWN RINE
NEW MARTINSVILLE — During the preseason, Dave ‘Doc’ Chapman precisely summed up Magnolia football in one small sentence. When the Blue Eagles are physical on both the offensive and defensive lines, he said, they’re good.
In his first season at the helm, Chapman started four freshmen and a junior on the offensive line. Magnolia suffered through a rare down season, finishing at 2-8.
”Trying to play freshmen on Friday nights is difficult,” Chapman said. ”They were pressed into duty.
”We didn’t make any excuses and we coached them up week-in and week-out. They got better as the year went on, but our schedule didn’t do us any favors either.”
There is plenty of good news, though. Last season ended with a 55-0 road victory against Moorefield, and those freshmen have grown up. In his second year, Chapman, who welcomes back eight starters on both sides of the ball, expects the physicality to be back to Blue Eagles standards.
”We took our knocks and we talked in the offseason. The kids kind of took it personal and came in with a chip on their shoulders,” Chapman said. ”The numbers that I had in the weight room through winter and spring and into summer here, you could tell that we have gotten a lot bigger, stronger and faster.
”Does that mean anything for this year? I think it does.”
The Blue Eagles feature plenty of top skill players, but their bread will be buttered up front. It starts with sophomore twins Jared and Jakob Barrows, whom Chapman can’t stop raving about.
”If ever I was going to name sophomores captains, it would be those guys,” Chapman said. ”Both those kids are about 5-11 and between 205 and 215.
”They’ve worked very hard.”
The same can be said of the rest of the interior line, which includes seniors Austin Klug and Conner Seckman, along with sophomore Mikey Hamrick.
”We’ve got some guys up front that we feel pretty good about,” Chapman said. ”These are the same guys that were getting knocked around a little bit last year, but the shoe might be on the other foot this year.
”Those same guys on the offensive line will go over and play the same on defense.
”Being able to control the line of scrimmage, that’s football. The game hasn’t changed too much.”
The biggest offensive weapon is senior Brooks Parsons (6-3, 200), who will be a contributor for the fourth consecutive season. He runs, catches, punts, plays corner and is as dangerous as they come in the return game.
”We are going to line him up at a lot of different places — at running back, as a receiver and he will return kicks for us,” Chapman said. ”We’re going to try to get him in position to where he is going get the ball on a direct handoff and he will be a focus of our passing game, obviously.
”Brooks is a fourth-year guy who has a very high offensive IQ and I know he has high goals for himself. He’s one of the fastest kids in the state and we ask him to do a lot.”
Senior Leo Herrick, who is 6-4 and weighs 190, returns as split end and gives Magnolia a pair of big targets on the outside.
”Leo has shined in camp,” Chapman said. ”He catches the ball real well and runs good routes.
”He and Brooks, tandem-wise at receiver, that is a strength we look to utilize.”
Senior Hunter Partridge has big shoes to fill at the tailback position. He looks to replace the graduated Chase Street, the school’s all-time leading rusher and the Most Valuable Player of this summer’s Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Football game.
”Hunter, he and Brooks were on the 4×1 and 4×2 team that went to states, and they won the 200,” Chapman said. ”Both of those boys can run and they’re not track guys playing football. They were football guys running track last year.
”Hunter is going to be carrying the load at running back.”
The quarterback is also new in the form of junior Pat Mirandy (6-0, 175). He takes over for three-year starter Nick Priem.
”He played the second half against Wheeling Central last year when Priem got hurt, and I know how complimentary the Central coaches were of him,” Chapman said. ”He throws the ball well and is one of our top-3 fastest kids.
”Generally at Magnolia we like to sprint the quarterback and roll him out. We’re going to do a lot things with Pat to get him in space.
”He’s probably put on 30 pounds since last year and Pat understands the expectations when you play quarterback here.
”He’s a two-headed guy … he can run and throw.”
Sebastian Stickler (6-0, 180) and Matt Gaiser (6-4, 230) will alternate at the H-back position.
”Gaiser is a more prototype tight end but Stickler is a hard-nosed kid,” Chapman said. ”There will be times that both of them are on the field … we can split one of them out.
”We feel, skill-wise, we’re really strong.”
Eric and Craig Mason have returned to the staff and are like ”co-defensive coordinators,” according to Chapman. The defense will be fast and physical, attacking from all angles.
Klug, Hamrick, Seckman and the Barrows brothers will be joined up front by 6-0, 340-pound senior Miles Hostetler.
”From what I have seen in the summer and early on here, (the Masons) are just such great teachers,” Chapman said. ”Eric Conner is coaching the defensive tackles and Kent Pilant has the secondary. Aaron Cisar is on board and helping with the offense.
”We’re all Magnolia guys and I think that says something.”
Partridge, junior Cameron Stillwagoner and Stickler are the linebackers. The secondary consists of Parsons at a corner, Herrick, who is going from safety to corner, and Mirandy, ”who will be running around everywhere back there.” Gage Adams also figures into the secondary.
”The defense hasn’t changed much … we’re going to bring it to you,” Chapman said. ”We’re not going to sit back and wait.
”We’ve got the makings to be really solid. Not to make predictions, but kids know there are expectations playing here.”
Parsons will handle the punting duties and will return all kicks. Mirandy will kick off and handle field goals and extra points.