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Blue Eagle Offense Clicked On All Cylinders

By Staff | Dec 8, 2010

The Magnolia offense, led by Kennedy Award Candidate Justin “Tank” Fox, has many weapons at its disposal, including runningbacks who can run the ball quite well, receivers who can catch, and linemen who can block.

Magnolia High School has had many good offensive teams over the 100 plus years of football. But, what with the years gone by and the differences in way football is being played now versus the early 1900s, the Blue Eagle 2010 offense ranks at the top.

Offensive Coordinator Dave “Doc” Chapman lost to graduation last year the Blue Eagles’ two top career all-time runningbacks in Dillon Jackson and Stingray Bates. He also lost the entire line, except for tackle Matthew Riggs. However, Chapman has the all-time career leader Justin “Tank” Fox at quarterback.

“Coach Moke Riggs is one of the best line coaches I have ever seen and Coach Mike Findling helps out tremendously,” said Chapman.

“We script out our plays that we want to run on Friday and go over and over it through the week and that helps out on the execution.”

Fox has re-written the Magnolia quarterback record book. He is first in career-high attempts, 772; completions, 404; most yardage, 6,542; and touchdown passes, 68.

We are very diversified on offense. We use different formations and execution from everyone makes the play. When we execute our plays, good things happen.

Not only did he throw the ball extremely well, he also had 259 yards rushing, 21 TDs, 10 field goals, and split the uprights on 148 extra points. His total points scored in his four-year career is 322.

One might have thought that if Magnolia was going to win some games, they were going to have to throw the ball. But, never fear, Chapman has an abundance of backs that can run the ball. First is Jayson Keller, who was the team’s second back behind brother Traeh. After Traeh got sick and injured midway through the season, enter Jayson. Not only did he rush for 1,276 yards during the season, he scored 18 TDs on the ground and added one more through the air.

Also there is Kage Rhode, Timmy Shreve, and Tanner Fluharty.

Stephen Rogalski has been on the receiving end on 17 of Fox’s 29 TD passes this season for 1,162 yards. Brendan Kacor, who has blossomed into a fine receiver, has caught 17 passes for 431 yards and five touchdowns, while Cameron Benson, from the tight end position, caught 337 yards and three TDs. Kyle Elliott, Jayson and Traeh Keller caught the rest of the passes for 500 yards total and have made the offense click.

Helping was that many opponent teams focused on passing, leaving the ground game open for some big plays. Not only did the newly-formed front line of Matthew Riggs, Dillon Simmons, Sam Shepherd, Seth Findling, and Bentley Knight protect Fox, they opened some holes for Jayson Keller to reach over 1,200 yards in his first season as the main runningback.

Jayson Keller gets a hand-off from Justin Fox and scrambles for big yards

But, he isn’t alone. Brother Traeh was the go-to guy before his injury and is healthy once more. They have Kage Rhode, a freshman, who is second in yardage with 405 and four touchdowns. Also on the line are Ryan Ritchea and Caleb Seckman, who come in on certain formations, as well as tight-end Mark Winters, when the Eagles go to double tight-ends

When you talk offense, you must consider the extra-point conversion. Fox has hit 67-76 with Kyle Elliott holding this season. Fox is 148-167 in his career. Magnolia has scored 552 points, while giving up only 69 points prior to the state title game. The 1992 team had a 13-1 record, losing only to East Bank in the worst weather conditions humanly possible without a postponement. The Eagles lost the contest, 14-16, but that team scored a school-high 497 points.

The only other Magnolia team to go through the season without a loss was in 1961, when the team went 10-0 and wasn’t invited to play in the championships. The ’61 Blue Eagles scored 361 points in 10 games.

However, the 1917 team finished the season with an 8-1-1 record and scored 439 points, including 309 points in only three games. Those games included a national record, a 157-0 shutout of Woodsfield. Magnolia also prevailed 82-0 over Williamstown and posted a 70-0 victory over Cameron.

As you can see, there have been a lot of points scored at Magnolia. But, in the future, MHS teams will have to go no farther than the 2010 team that scored a mind-boggling 552 points, most of which came in the first half of the games.

Brendan Kacor on an end-around

Last Thursday night at practice, Blue Eagle bench players duplicated the opposition’s known defensive schemes, supervised by Coaches Mark Batton, Bob Ripley, and David Grandstaff.

These players play “against” Magnolia’s offensive starters. The bench players must play their positions, as well as those of the opposing team, and often do not get the recognition they deserve.

Every year, Magnolia wants to be balanced both on the ground and through the air. They have running plays to come off passing plays and running plays that are keyed by passing. “Run sets up the pass and the pass sets up the run,” said Chapman. “And every word has a different meaning to every player. The kids have such a high IQ when it comes to our offense and defense schemes,” added Chapman.

The players feed the play to Fox for execution. It takes all 11 players on the field to make the plays work. That trickles down to all the work during practice, from the bench players to the starters.

“We are very diversified on offense,” Chapman noted. “We use different formations and execution from everyone makes the play. When we execute our plays good things happen.”

Justin Fox throwing his last pass as a Magnolia Blue Eagle

Look no farther than the big plays of Jayson Keller. He has run for 1,276 yards on 160 rushes for an average of eight yards every time he touches the football. Kage Rhode has 53 touches for 7.6 yards a tote. And every time Stephen Rogalski catches the ball he gets a little under 20 yards for each one.

Rogalski has 1,162 yards on 59 snatches; Cameron Benson has tacked on 337 yards on 20 catches for 16.9 yards a catch; and Brendan Kacor has caught 17 passes for over 25 yards a catch. Every time Fox passes, he gets an average of 17.1 yards and has completed 139-218 passes for 2,370 yards and 29 touchdowns.

“Not every play will get you 10 yards,” Chapman cautioned. “We just try to keep the ball in front of the chains and if we score quickly, that’s even better. Everything we run is based on execution. We try to do things that the kids can do, based on our personnel. And these kids can do just about anything. It’s a fun offense for the kids to run. We don’t make it fun. They make it fun.

“When you do well as a team, there is enough credit to go around for everybody. Our kids don’t care who gets the accolades. Our main goal is to score more points than the other team.”

Chapman continued. We (also) have a great staff here. Everyone helps each other. I’m just one small piece here and it all starts from the top.”