Battle Of Unbeatens Preview
By R. J. GOODE
For The Wetzel Chronicle
This Friday at Alumni Field two of the OVAC’s seven remaining undefeated teams, Magnolia (4-0) and Monroe Central (5-0), will lock horns. Both teams come into the game averaging over 40 points per contest, with the Seminoles holding the edge at 45.8 points per game through five games. The Blue Eagles have played one less game and are averaging 43.25 points per game, with the River Pilots their only common team.
In week three, Monroe Central beat the Pilots 54-7, while the Eagles followed up in week four with a 44-3 verdict over the Pilots.
Magnolia is coming off of a bye week, while the ‘Noles are coming off a 36-0 smashing of the Fort Frye Cadets who were also unbeaten at the time.
These two teams cannot only put points on the board, but they can also stop their opponents on defense. They have combined to give up just 55 points on the season and have a combined four shutouts.
The Eagles hold the edge on the defensive side of the ball, giving up just 3.75 points per a game, while the Seminoles come into the game giving up only eight points per contest.
In last Sunday’s OVAC rankings, Monroe Central was second in Class AA behind Shenandoah, while the Eagles topped the Class AAA list, with Martins Ferry second, Harrison Central third, Union Local fourth, St. Clairsville fifth, and Edison sixth. However, there will be a big shake up in the top five, as all three schools won, while Union Local lost its second consecutive game. Union is coached by former Blue Eagle quarterback standout Mark Cisar.
The Blue Eagle and Seminole backfields will most certainly play a big role in this Friday night’s outcome. As Magnolia’s Justin Fox, Stingray Bates, and Dillon Jackson will try to outdo Monroe Central’s Derek London Dierkes and Tyler Kitchen.
Whoever wins Friday’s game will help themselves out big time in the OVAC.
Other key players for both teams are Magnolia’s 6’4” lineman and tight end Jared Blatt, and Monroe Central’s Jesse Headley.
The Blue Eagle defense also has a lot of impact players, such as Fox, Blatt, and Jackson, each of whom play both sides of the football. Some other guys that will play a key role on the defensive side of the ball are Zack Neff, Cole Mullet, Davey Howell, and Treah Keller.
The Eagles are looking to revenge a 28-0 shellacking from last season’s matchup, which happened to be the last time Mark Batton’s squad has lost a regular season game. MHS lost only once since then, in the WVSSAC Class AA state title game to the Grafton Bearcats.
The matchup at quarterback will be interesting. The Seminole QB, like the Eagles’, can do it all. He can pass and he can run, but the Eagles look to have just a few more weapons than Monroe Central. During his last game Fox by-passed the great Todd Greene for a career sixth place in total yards passing with 3,358 yards. He needs only 606 yards to pass the ever-popular Brian Book for fifth place.
This much-anticipated matchup between Magnolia and Monroe Central will have high school football fans coming out from two states to watch.
But, win or lose, the Eagles will certainly learn from this game and use it to help them with the rest of the regular season and on through the playoffs.