Thru The Lens
The 2014 football season opens for most local schools this Friday night. Magnolia has an off week and will not open until Sept. 5, at home, against down river rival Williamstown. With this in mind, I took a look back to 1914 and 1964 to remember some past teams’ accomplishments.
Recently, I talked with Wayne and Warren Witschey about Magnolia football and its long, proud history. Before I realized it, a couple of hours had slipped by in the enjoyable conversation. Both of these men have worked hard to preserve the history of the school and those who spent time in the four different buildings that have worn that name.
On this day, we discussed a group of players recruited by Captain Howard Lentz to play football in 1914. One hundred years ago, a group of young men under the coaching of Mont “Tubby” McIntire took to the field to play schools from Wheeling, Martins Ferry and Bellaire.
The school had not yet adopted the Blue Eagle name at that time. That name came to be in 1933. At this time, the team was known as the Blue Blizzards due to the weather, when a sports writer from Wheeling attended one of their games in very cold temperatures. The story in the Wetzel Democrat often described the team as being from Old Magnolia. The team lost its first game to Wheeling that year. Sports writers attributed it to lack of practice time on the Blue Blizzards’ part.
One of the games that drew great attention was against Sistersville, who had, for the last three years, defeated Magnolia. That year, McIntire was anticipating victory for his team. Newspapers called for a celebration of the greatest football game of the day.
During the game’s intermission, Morris “Dinger” Daughtery, circled the field with a group of girls giving their favorite yells and singing appropriate songs. Magnolia did win by a score of 26 to 3. The local papers declared them to be the “Monarchs of Football.” They ended their season with a victory over Weston, but were not proclaimed champions in 1914, even though they won every game but one and outscored their opponents 274 to 23 in the season.
Sports writers of the day wrote that Magnolia should have been state champions if they had not played three or four bigger teams with more players. That was Oct. 30, 1914. Alongside the story of the football team were accounts of the war in France.
Fifty years later, the local papers once again welcomed the new season with headlines that proclaimed, “Fifty-two Gridders Reports to Begin Practice.” Twenty-two of the team’s squad were seniors that year. That was the headline on Aug. 27, 1964. Also a recent issue of the paper told of the passing of a Magnolia fan who, 50 years before, had led the cheering squad at the Sistersville game – Dinger Daugherty.
With the opening of the 64 season, sports writers declared that Magnolia should bring to the field a rugged defense and a grinding offense. They should display on Friday night, as the Blue Eagles open their season against Weston. Last year, the Eagles bested Weston as Wayne Porter’s 88 yard punt return gave them a 13-7 victory.
Unfortunately the 64 season’s opener ended in Weston’s favor. Stan Shreve was the only bright spot of the team performance according to sports reports of day. At game’s end, Magnolia lost 13-6.
In the second game, Magnolia defeated Follansbee’s Blue Wave by only six points. That single score came after junior cornerback Mike Barnes fell on a Blue Wave fumble. Barnes was credited for playing an outstanding defensive game against a tough Follansbee team. His fumble recovery gave Coach Jack Flanagan and his offensive unit the opportunity to move the ball 54 yards for the game’s only score – by Dave Booher on the 13th play of the series.
Magnolia lost three of the first four games in the ’64 season. The biggest challenge came at the end of the regular season against long time rival, St. Marys. The year before, in 1963, Magnolia was in first place in the “AA” State rankings and the “AAA” OVAC ratings with only one game left in the regular season.
But, after a 22-0 defeat by a quick St. Marys team, their hopes of the playoffs vanished in the night. The 1964 team had no intentions of letting that happen again. Magnolia closed out the regular season with a 26-14 win over St. Marys.
Jack Flannigan led his Blue Eagles to the State “AA” championship with a win over Mount Hope in brutally cold temperatures at Parkersburg Field. Four players from the 1964 team went on to play Division I football. Dave Booher, Jim Gilbert and Jim Starkey went on to play for Marshall’s Thundering Herd. Emo Schupbach went on to West Virginia University and play for the Mountaineers. Several others on the team went on to play for other colleges.
It has been fifty years since that ’64 team took to the field of play and we are about to enter the 2014 season with a new coach, Josh Simms. What will the season bring to the Blue Eagle squad?
Who knows? The history of this season is yet to be written. Some I talk with want to predict good things for the team and its new coach. They remind me that he has players with experience and one of the best coaching staffs in the valley.
Others want to believe with only three returning seniors and a new untested coach, the season may not go well for the team. But, the one thing I have learned in talking with those who remember Magnolia football and its long history is that you never know what is going to happen when the whistle blows on the opening game.
In the year 2114, someone may write about Coach Simms’ 2014 team. Whatever happens, it will be a good story for those doing the telling and those that listen. If we don’t preserve our history, we leave no legacy for the future to remember who the Blue Eagles were. Returning to look at past teams helps for us to remember the strong football history of our community and Magnolia High School since the first game was played in 1902.
As we end this look back at the past, I would like to ask you all to help find some missing pieces of Magnolia’s football history. The 1914 team has a player who is unidentified. He is in the middle row, fourth from the left. We also would like to find a picture of the 1908 football squad. If you can help with either of these mysteries it will help complete the history of Magnolia football and it