WHEELING, W.Va. – Magnolia completed a perfect season on Saturday, winning the Class A football championship over East Hardy 62-0 in what was a record setting night.
“We definitely were expecting a tight game,” said Magnolia coach Josh Sims. “We’re the most surprised to see 62-0 up there. But I think this is just a culmination of years of preparation. This didn’t just start in August of this year, this started years ago.”
The 62 points scored are the most ever in Super 6 history for a Class A title game, erasing Wheeling Central’s previous record of 51 points scored against Williamstown in 2007.
The 62-point margin of victory is also an overall Super 6 record, surpassing Bluefield’s 45-point win over Wayne in 2004, 69-24. The previous Class A record was a 44-0 win for Ceredo-Kenova over Valley Wetzel in 1994.
“These kids expected to be here, therefore they were relaxed,” Sims said. “When the game started, they flipped the switch on and went after it.”
Magnolia’s first score came late in the first quarter at the 1:48 mark on a one-yard run from quarterback Nick Priem. Just 15 seconds later, Magnolia’s Peau Halahingano intercepted a Corey McDonald pass and returned it 26 yards for another touchdown, giving the Blue Eagles all of the momentum.
“The pick-six was huge,” Sims said. “Getting up 14-0 is obviously a big thing, but pick-sixes have that momentum swing. It was a huge swing and from there it was pretty much downhill.”
Magnolia also tied a Class A Super 6 record with five interceptions defensively in the game as Todd Lemasters added two picks, to go along with Halahingano’s, as well as a pick each from Tyler Anderson and Brandon Mason.
Magnolia’s defense smothered East Hardy on the night, sending relentless pressure and holding the Cougars to just three yards in the first half and 74 yards for the entire game.
The Blue Eagles (14-0) collected six sacks behind a physical defensive line.
“Every single guy on our defensive line is an all-state caliber player,” Sims said. “That was a huge part of our success defensively tonight, those guys just getting after the quarterback.”
Chase Street led Magnolia with 194 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 19 carries, while Anderson finished with 130 yards and two total touchdowns (one rushing, one passing) on 19 carries. Halahingano also added a touchdown catch, while Kyle Ritz collected a touchdown catch from Priem as well.
Blue Eagles’ sophomore Brooks Parsons added 58 yards rushing on four carries and collected four catches for another 44 yards.
“This is just great and I couldn’t do it without the line in front of me,” Street said. “I’m just so happy to be here. This is the greatest day of my life and I just want to thank my team and my parents. We’ve worked so hard for it.”
For East Hardy (12-2), it was the first trip ever to the Class A championship game.
“We got in a whirlpool there early,” said East Hardy coach Chad Williams. “We missed a few assignments there early and then we just got in that whirlpool, we got sucked in and we just couldn’t get out of there.
“Eventually, we’ll look back on what we accomplished this year,” Williams said. “We’ve never been this far and we have a lot coming back. We really only had four seniors on the field. We’ve got a good group coming back and I feel good about the direction that our program is headed.”
It’s Magnolia’s first football championship since 2010 when the Blue Eagles won the Class AA title.
“I can’t speak enough to the maturity of this team to get through all of that hype that was brought up (in the preseason),” Sims said. “These kids didn’t just want to win, they wanted to dominate. They never took their foot off of the gas.”