BY R. J. GOODE
For the Wetzel Chronicle
As always, there are several big football games across the State of West Virginia and in the OVAC. But, none as big as the one Friday, Sept. 21, in what should be a jam packed Alumni Field, as the Magnolia Blue Eagles welcome two-time defending Class-A State Champion Wheeling Central.
Both teams come into the game with identical 3-1 records, as both lost their season openers and are both on three-game winning streaks.
The Eagles proved that they can win on the ground. While they completed only three aerials against the River Pilots, the Eagles racked up 277 yards on 38 carries as a team on the ground.
Defensively, the Eagles have forced 10 turnovers, while their offense has given the ball away five times. Offensively, Tanner Hanna has completed more than half of his 80 passes for 552 yards and two TDs. Stephen Rogalski has accumulated over 3,000 yards receiving in his career, and has scored 26 touchdowns through the air. As a team Magnolia has racked up 711 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground this season.
Meanwhile, Central last Friday rushed for 223 on 49 carries and two TDs in a win over rival the Linsly Cadets, who dropped to 1-3 since beating the Blue Eagles 21-20 Aug. 25
Wheeling Central's quarterback/halfback C. J. Burch racked up 160 yards on 35 carries and two TDs against the Cadets.
The Big Blue offense is averaging 30 points a game and its defense is giving up 16 points per a game, compared with the Maroon Knights, who are averaging 24 points per a contest and allowing 18 points per contest.
Magnolia defensive mastermind Bob Ripley will have to try to find a way to stop the Maroon's offense that has been very explosive since their week one 14-7 loss to Harrison Central. This will be Central's first actual away game, as they were the visiting team last week against Linsly at Wheeling Island stadium where Central plays all its home games.
Both teams were ranked in the top 16 in last week's WVSSAC rating in Class-A. The Maroon Knights were tied for 12th, while the Eagles were tied at the 16 position.
There are 15 of the top 17 teams in Class-A that are ether still unbeaten or only have one loss this season.
Last week's the number one ranked Greenbrier West suffered its first loss of the season in a 29-20 defeat. Buffalo High School, also suffered their first loss of the season, as did number three-ranked Doddridge County, who was dominated by number 15-ranked Wirt County 45-15.
The Eagles did pick up a bonus point when the Williamstown Yellowjackets beat South Harrison 49-7. But Central also picked up a bonus when Weirton Madonna defeated Fort Frye 49-6.
The Sept. 21 contest is sure to be a great game, as both Magnolia and Wheeling Central will look to put themselves in position for a big second half of the season, with the winner more than likely to jump up into the WVSSAC top 10 next week.
The rest of the Eagles' schedule has a combined record of eight wins and 10 losses. Both Barnesville and Monroe Central have 3-1 records, while Steubenville Catholic Central and Oak Glen are at 2-2 and Weir hasn't won a game as yet.