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Magnolia Linemen Are The Eagles Men Of Steel

By Staff | Nov 10, 2010

The Magnolia Men of Steel and their coaches are pictured, from left, Coach Mike Findling, Ryan Ritchea, Bentley Knight, Seth Findling, Sam Shepherd, Coach Moke Riggs, Matt Riggs, and Dillon Simmons. (Photo by Bruce Crawford)

After losing Jake Potts, Drew Schmalz, Andy Huggins, and Jared Blatt to graduation a season ago, it looked bleak for the Magnolia Blue Eagle front line to protect their Kennedy Award candidate Justin “Tank” Fox. It also didn’t look that great, having lost the two top rushers in Magnolia history – Dillon Jackson and Stingray Bates.

But, the Eagles have reeled off 10 straight regular season games and are looking to add as many as four more victories throughout the playoffs and Super Six Championship game.

Offensive linemen in general don’t get the accolades that the defense, running backs, receivers, and quarterbacks get. However, they go out and do their job without much notice in the newspapers.

How much would the runningbacks get and how would the quarterback do if they didn’t have someone there to block and protect them?

Most of the Eagle offensive line – besides Matt Riggs and Dillon Simmons – didn’t see much action last season and guys like Sam Shepherd, Bentley Knight, and Seth Findling had to learn as the season progressed. Also, line coaches Moke Riggs and Mike Findling have brought players like Justin Wade and Ryan Ritchie off the bench to keep the Blue Eagle Hogs energized.

When the quarterback gets sacked or the runningback gets stood up in the backfield, they are the first to get scolded. If the linemen don’t do their job, then the backs and quarterback can’t do theirs.

The MHS runningbacks and Fox at quarterback have benefitted from the maturity that these guys have given Magnolia. This is largely thanks to the holes the linemen opened wide enough that Mack trucks could run through and gives Fox the time to throw the ball down the field for the big plays.

Not only have the offensive linemen jelled as a unit this season, they are very quick and strong. With all this muscle up front, the Eagles have one of the best – if not the best front line in high school football.

However, these guys are not done. They are on a mission and that is to win one game at a time and be on the turf at Wheeling Island to bring home Magnolia’s second state football championship.

Each and every player is important, including the guys on the bench. They must always be ready to come in and do the job without notice and be ready to do the job the starters were doing, or not doing.

It has been said that you must be able to run the ball, pass the ball, and play solid defense to win a championship and Magnolia does all three very well. On the ground, the Eagles have 1,932 yards and 33 touchdowns, while Fox and his talented receiving corp have generated 1,932 yards too and 20 touchdowns.

But, to get that yardage up front, you must have a solid group of guys that will run, block, and pass block, and the Blue Eagles do those things well.

When you go to the game Nov. 12 against Tug Valley, take a good look at the linemen and give them a round of applause in what they do.

Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.