BY R.J. GOODE
For The Wetzel Chronicle
After defeating the Valley Fayette Greyhounds 42-16 Nov. 16, the number 14 seed Magnolia Blue Eagles (7-4) will take on the number six seed, the 10-1 Moorefield Yellowjackets in the state Class-A quarterfinal Nov. 23 at Moorefield.
The Jackets come into the game averaging 33.72 ppg, whereas the Eagles are earning an average 29.64. The Eagle offense has been paced by senior Drew Keller, who has rushed for 1,441 yards on 220 carries and found the end zone 16 times.
Since the St. Marys game on Oct. 18, Keller has been running some QB in the wildcat formation. It has paid off big time, as he has carried the ball 117 for 689 yards and 11 trips to the promised land. That includes a career-high 235 yards on 35 carries and three scores in their first-round win over the Greyhounds.
In the the rushing department, QB Jake Brill and running back Kage Rhode have combined for 620 yards and 10 scores on 120 totes. Senior wide out Eric Smith has proved that he could contribute in the running game as well, having carried the ball four times for 117 yards and a score in Magnolia’s opening round win.
Brill has completed 62 of 101 passes for 976 yards and 11 scores on the season and has been intercepted just six times. Eric Smith has been his favorite target, catching 31 for 635 yards and seven scores, while sophomore tight end Kyle Ritz has caught 14 footballs for 178 yards and four scores.
The offensive line is led by senior Cole Seckman, who is joined by fellow seniors Stephen White and Brandon Clegg, along with sophomores Zach Haught, Carter Seckman, and Hunter Brill.
The Big Blue holds the edge on the defensive side of the ball, which is led by three-year starters Keller, Rhode, and Seckman, who have given up just under 12 points per game. The ‘Jacket D, however, is surrendering 16.36 points per game.
Both teams have been to the state title game a combined 15 times. Moorefield made a run of eight straight years in 1996-03, winning every time except in 2000 and 2002. The last time the Blue Eagles made back-to-back state title appearances was 1992-93, losing both of them.
But, they won it all in 1964 and 2010.
The quarterfinal game is scheduled to kickoff at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, with the winner earning a semifinal berth and a match up with ether number two seed St. Marys or number seven seed Greenbrier West. Those teams will kickoff in St. Marys, also at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.