BY R. J. GOODE
For the Sports Department
For the fourth time in the last five years, the number two seed Magnolia Blue Eagles will host a state semi-final game when they take on the number three seed Wahama White Falcons on Saturday, Nov. 24, at 1:30 on Alumni Field in New Martinsville.
Both teams come into this game on big winning streaks. The Falcons are 12-0, while the Eagles are 11-1, having won 11 straight games since losing the opener against the Linsly Cadets 21-20 on Aug. 24.
This is the Falcons' third straight trip to the Class-A semi-finals. It also is their third straight year being unbeaten coming into this game. Back in 2010, the Falcons advanced to the state title game, only to lose to powerhouse Wheeling Central 28-14. Last year the Falcons lost in the semis to eventual state runner-up Williamstown
This is the Eagles' first year in Class-A and they are looking to get back to Wheeling Island where they brought home the hardware in 2010 after defeating the Ravenswood Red Devils 28-13 for the state Class-AA title.
The Falcons have a high-powered offense, having scored a total of 504 points this season for a per game average of 42 points. But the Eagles have a high-powered offense of their own with a 33.75 ppg. Quarterback Tanner Hanna has completed 112-196 passes for 1,494 yards and 15 TDs, while 58 of those catches belong to senior all-state receiver Stephen Rogalski, who has 58 catches for 813 yards and six TDs. Rogalski also added four rushing TDs - two on punt returns and one on a kickoff return - for a total of 13 scores for the season. The Eagles come in averaging 337.5 total yards per game with 213.25 of that coming on the ground and 124.25 yards through the air. In the running game, Magnolia juniors Drew Keller and Kage Rohde have done most of the work. Keller has carried the ball 236 times for 1,302 yards and 12 TDs, while Rohde is not far behind with 117 totes for 795 yards and 15 TDs.
In addition, the Eagles can win with the offense or the defense. Rohde is the leader on defenses, bringing the lumber with numerous big time hits this season.
The Blue Eagles held off a feisty East Hardy ball club 19-14 last week, with help from intercepted passes by Rogalski and Hanna. That was Hanna's fifth interception of the season and Rogalski's first. The Eagle defense has been applying pressure on the QB all year with numerous sacks by numerous players.
The Blue is giving up only 11.75 ppg through the first 12 games of the season, while the Falcons are not far behind, just giving up 12 ppg. Rohde is leading the team in tackles with 125 16 of them for a loss of yardage. Jake Brill is second with 92, Drew Keller is third with 68, freshman Kyle Ritz is fourth with 63, and Gage Deem is fifth with 61. Leading in sacks is Ritz with 12 and Rohde with 10. In fumble recoveries, Brill, Deem, and Ritz all have three and Hanna has five.
The White Falcons have played three other West Virginia schools this year and defeated all of them. Both teams are looking for that Gold.
The winner of the game against Wahama will play the winner of top-seed Tucker County and fourth-seed Weirton Madonna. Those games also are being played Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
The title match will be played Dec. 1, 7 p.m.