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Lets Talk Sports

By Staff | Jul 29, 2009

The fall season is nearing. Footballs, volleyballs, golf balls, and soccer balls will fill the air, while the cross county runners will fill the streets and hills. Magnolia was one win from the state championship in the Class AA football championship last season and you can bet they will return to Wheeling Island to take care of business.

It is always hard to repeat, but the Eagles’ coaching staff has taken the Big Blue to the playoffs four straight seasons and, hopefully, for the fifth time this year.

The Eagles have lost starters Jason Utt, Martin Whiteman, Tyler Hanna, Charles Alter, and Brandon Sprouse to graduation, but return most of the front line. The backfield is back except for fullback Whiteman and the receiving corp of Utt and Sprouse.

To many high school teams, losing guys like this will dampen any chance of taking it to the next level. But, at Magnolia, Head Coach Mark Batton and his talented staff of Dave Chapman, Dave Grandstaff, Moke Riggs, and, of course, Bob Ripley, just keep rebuilding and this season is no different.

Justin “Tank” Fox returns along with runningbacks Dillon Jackson and Stingray Bates. Plus, adding receivers like Jared Blatt, Cameron Benson, and Derek Fruner makes the Eagles one of the dangerous offenses in the OVAC and the state. The team will be ready to make a lot of noise.

The Eagles defense isn’t that shabby either. Returning for defense is coordinator Ripley are Traeh Keller, Zach Neff, and Davey Howell.

These guys were the headliners, but it takes more than just a couple of guys to make a team. The Blue Eagles have many different weapons on offense, defense, and special teams. Guys like Drew Schmalz, Sam Shepherd, Andy Huggins, Cole Mullett, Cody Elliott, Timmy Shreve, Matt Riggs, and Sean Sawyers, plus many others have paid their dues and will be called upon to pick up their game to add to an already awesome team concept.

Besides these players, the New Martinsville School eighth graders have some talented boys that will challenge some upper classmen for playing time.


Paige Shriver, an 11-year-old level nine gymnast from Hundred, could use your help. She has been training intensely for hours each week, including one hour each way to even get to practice.

Shriver’s parents have established a non-profit group called the Mountain Magic Parent’s Organization so that people like you and me can help the gymnasts’ families defray the costs of training. Checks can be made out to MMPO and the funds raised will be applied to competition and training fees.

Donors can specify a particular athlete, such as Paige, just by putting her name on the memo line on the check. Otherwise, it will be divided among gymnasts.

This sport is very expensive. I cannot even fathom the time and energy that Paige puts into this sport. Her parents take her to practice and competitions all over the country and just the traveling expenses are out of this world. If you can help the Shrivers with a donation to help defray the cost, I know they would be grateful.

Paige’s dedication to the sport has paid off with many, many victories. This is not a seasonal sport; there is no time off. This year the Shrivers will be taking a vacation to Myrtle Beach and, while there, they will be visiting a local gym to keep up with Paige’s training. At level nine, Paige is training non-stop and her goal is to be a college gymnast and possibly make the Olympics.

Let’s see if we can help a little girl reach her dreams and when she makes it, we can truly say we helped her get there.