By Shawn Rine – The Wheeling Intelligencer and News-Register for WVMetroNews.com
River, Ohio at Class A No. 15 Magnolia
NEW MARTINSVILLE – Throw the records out the windows when this two teams meet, is generally what the fan bases will tell you. The thing is, both records are generally pretty good when the two rivals from opposite sides of the Ohio River meet.
Tonight will be no different as River (2-1), ranked fifth in the Ohio Division VII, Region 27 rankings, makes the short trip to tangle with Class A No. 15 Magnolia (2-1) at 7 Thursday night on Alumni Field inside Bill Stewart Memorial Stadium.
The Blue Eagles are coming off a 14-13, double-overtime loss to Shadyside, another perennial Ohio power. They had their chances, but the game slipped through the fingertips.
“We had a couple of opportunities before it went to overtime and didn’t convert,” Magnolia coach Dave Chapman said. “That’s the game. You’ve got to execute what you’re trying to do offensively and we didn’t come up with a couple of plays, a couple kicks.
“But that’s football and obviously it’s a tough loss, but we’re past that and we got back to work Monday being a short week.
“We’ve had a pretty good week of practice.”
Magnolia will need it with the Pilots and first-team all-state quarterback Lukas Isaly coming to town. He threw for a touchdowns and ran for 250 yards and five touchdowns in a victory last Friday against Monroe Central as River bounced back from its lone loss to an unbeaten Shenandoah squad.
“We were coming off a pretty physical game against Shenandoah,” River coach Mike Flannery said. “It was going to be a hard game to come out with a win. It was pretty exciting to watch as a spectator but a pretty blood-raising event as a coach.
“It’s a short week and it’s time to prepare for the Blue Eagles.”
Chapman feels confident his squad will show resiliency following the loss to Shadyside and he also is aware River always has a strong program. Isaly, in particular, has been a player the Blue Eagles have been keeping an eye on for four seasons.
“They got one of the premier players in the valley,” Chapman said of Isaly. “He does it all. We’ve seen him going on four years and he does what he does pretty well. By no means are they a one-man band. He’s got some guys to throw to and we’re going to have to bring it.
“They are a good football team. They beat a good Bellaire team. They play some quality opponents. By no means are we looking at River having a down year because they’re capable.”
Flannery knows what Magnolia is capable of and he knows what they’ve been through for the past two years. Like always for a rivalry game, it is going to be a physical matchup. Flannery also noted that both teams have the athletes that are capable of breaking the game open.
“Both side of the river marks them on the schedule,” Flannery said. “It’s back-to back-rivals for us. Again, you throw out all the stats. It’s going to come down to special teams and we’re going to go over special teams all week.
“I respect Doc. He’s a good coach and they have a good staff over there. They have athletes that can strike quickly. They were young last year and paid their dues and the rewards are showing right now.”
No. 1 University at No. 7 Wheeling Park
WHEELING – The wait is over. Wheeling Park is finally set to play its first game this season at Wheeling Island Stadium, which was under construction for months. The initial contest, at least on paper, could not be more impressive.
University (3-0), which was at the top of the heap when the WVSSAC released its initial ratings Tuesday, is set to invade No. 7 Wheeling Park (2-1). While it’s true that those ratings don’t amount to much right now, this game offers some serious playoff ramifications down the road in the form of bonus points.
“In the last five, six years, we have done really well on our home field,” Daugherty said. “We only have a handful of losses and that is the first time we have been able to say that in a long time. We definitely feel like we have a home-field advantage there.
“We practice there so the kids are comfortable. I remember when I played in 1988, we didn’t practice there so when you got to the stadium on Friday night, it was just as new to us as the incoming team. It is nice to be home and to have that feeling again.”
Wheeling Park bounced back from its first loss by going on the road and knocking off Allderdice, Pa., 35-19, in a game that wasn’t as close as the score might indicate. Quarterback Cross Wilkinson threw for 248 yards and a pair of touchdowns, Donnie Evans had 165 total yards and the defense was its usual stiff self. Jermain Snodgrass led the way with 14 tackles and a sack while Nate Phillips had 13 tackles and two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. It was his second multiple-INT game of the season.
The Hawks, meanwhile, had to work against Brooke but pulled away late for a 34-15 victory. Coach John Kelley has seen his team score a defensive touchdown in every game this season.
One of Kelley’s top defensive players is also his top offensive weapon.
Receiver Amir Richardson has been grabbing all the highlights with his acrobatic one-handed catches. He has offers from a number of Division-I colleges, including West Virginia University.
“What is impressive about Amir, is that he is pretty darn good at defense, too,” Kelley said. “He is a spectacular free safety. He has made some great plays, great reads. He gets a lot of the attention and that has really opened things up for our other players.”
Bellaire at John Marshall
MOUNDSVILLE – Much like its rival Wheeling Park, John Marshall is set to play its first home game of the season. Monarch Stadium figures to be alive as JM (1-2) takes on Bellaire (2-1), the 10th-ranked squad in Ohio Division V, Region 19.
The Monarchs are coming off a frustrating, 29-26 loss to unbeaten Weir last Friday. For the second time in three games, JM was whistled for 100-plus yards in penalties.
“We had some opportunities against Weir, but give them credit. They took advantage of our mistakes and it helped lead to four touchdowns,” Monarchs coach Rick Goodrich said. “But we have to bounce back this week and respond to the adversity. This is a big game for us. We will see how the kids react.
“But we have to quit hurting ourselves with penalties. We have been our own worst enemies. We have to clean up our act.”
The Big Reds (2-1) have won two straight since a tough, season-opening loss to River. Last week they went to Harrison Central and hung a 38-7 beatdown on the stunned Huskies.
“The kids are playing real well right now,” Bellaire coach Mark Spigarelli said. “And I was so impressed with the fact that we did not fumble at all or have a penalty called on us last week.
“That is something that we harped on going into the game, and I was very pleased with the result. Our offense line has also come together better – and sooner – than I expected and the defense is swarming and playing more physical up front since the River game.”
The Big Reds feature one of the best quarterbacks in the Ohio Valley in senior Mason Ramsay. He was 8 of 11 for 160 yards and three touchdowns last week, while adding two more scores on the ground.
“The thing I notice most about them is that they are a young group that has gotten better each week,” Goodrich said. “Their offensive line does a nice job and their backs do a great job finding the holes.
“I have seen a major improvement from them since Week 1. Coach Spigarelli does a nice job over there.
“They are a scrappy team that always gives you a tough fight and we will need to be ready for 48 minutes Friday night.”
JM will counter with senior tailback Dereck Hess, who through three games has carried 71 times for 408 yards and five touchdowns. QB Jordan Wood has hit 28 of 52 passes for 370 yards a touchdown and two interceptions.
“They are a much improved football team and much better than their record indicates,” Spigarelli said. “They have a tailback (Hess) that does a tremendous job of running north and south and an improved offensive line that is big and strong.
“Really, they are just a typical Goody (Goodrich) offense and you have to prepare to shut down the run first but not forget about their athletic receivers. They are also a little different on defense which means we have to prepare and scheme different than we did last year.”
Williamstown at Wheeling Central
WHEELING – Both Williamstown (1-2) and Wheeling Central (0-2) are in unfamiliar territory heading into their 7 p.m. matchup tonight at Bishop Schmitt Field on the campus of Wheeling Jesuit University. Accustomed to playing for state titles, neither the Yellowjackets or Maroon Knights would be in the Class A playoffs if they began this weekend.
Coach Terry Smith’s Williamstown squad won its opener against Tyler Consolidated (54-33) but has since lost to Magnolia and Marietta, last week, by a 49-14 count. In all the Yellowjackets have allowed 127 points in the three games while scoring 98.
“We have not played very well the last two weeks, but a lot of that had to do with Magnolia and Marietta,” Smith said. “But it seems like we always end up in third-and-long, which is even worse against good teams. We are coming off a week in which we were flagged 13 times.
“Guys are trying, and the effort is there, but bad breaks, mostly hurting ourselves, are killing us. The mistakes have to be eliminated.”
On the other hand, Coach Mike Young’s Central club lost its opener to Steubenville Central before falling at powerful East Hardy, 10-7, last Friday night.
“I felt like we played a little better than the score indicated last week,” Young said. “We had a touchdown called back, a couple of bad exchanges and lost yardage on some key penalties.
“We were also held out of the end zone on a play that the kid felt he was in, but that is a judgment call on the road and you can’t leave doubt about those things.
“A couple of years ago we went there and they hung 60 on us, so we definitely played better this time.”
The biggest thing missing from the Maroon Knights attack has been their usually potent rushing attack. Through two games Wheeling Central still does not have a back that has broken the 100-yard mark.
Senior Dawson Wear has carried 27 times for 90 yards, junior Bray Price has 30 totes for 81 yards while sophomore quarterback Curtis McGhee III has been charted with 20 carries for 49 yards.
McGhee has completed 10 of 16 passes for 112 yards, two scores and an interception with Anthony Robbins and Blake Peluchette each recording touchdown grabs.
Defensively the Maroon Knights were able to limit East Hardy to 234 yards of total offense last week and allowing 342 to Steubenville Central two weeks earlier.
“I know they are 0-2, but that is still a really good football team,” Smith said of Wheeling Central. “A couple of plays here or there and they could very easily be 2-0. Our kids know that and are very fired up.
“We had a good workout Monday getting ready for them, and I truly believe the kids will show up ready to play. Just trying to improve a little at a time. This is the type of game that could provide a lot of playoff points, and cause some trouble is you lose, but that is looking way too far down the line.”
Class AA No. 2 Weir at Keyser
KEYSER – Fans looking at Keyser’s 59-0 loss to Fort Hill, Md., last week might not get the full picture. Weir (3-0) coach Tony Filberto understands the dynamics of the situation.
“That Fort Hill team is the defending state champion in a higher class than Double A,” he said. “Keyser is a very good football team, and we need to play as hard and aggressively as we did last week to come home with a win.”
The Golden Tornado (1-1), who handed the Red Riders one of their three losses last season, opened with a 49-0 rout of Berkley Springs.
Meanwhile, Weir escaped a scrappy John Marshall team, 29-26, to move them into a second-place tie with Bridgeport in the SSAC ratings.
“John Marshall is a quality team,” said Filberto, who joined the legendary Burdell (Jimmy) Carey in Weir annals with the second most head coaching victories at 52. “The kids know they were challenged, but they kept their composure in a game that had a lot of momentum and lead changes. They won like they were supposed to.”
One of the keys to the win was a defensive stand on fourth down at midfield late in the third quarter. When the officials brought out the chains to measure the spot, the Weir defense stopped the John Marshall ballcarrier just an inch or two shy of the first down.
Making the stop were the four Red Riders players in the center of the line (Mike Zias, Garrett Johnson, Frank Ty Hudacheck and Drew Curtis). Zias and Curtis are sophomores, while Johnson and Hudacheck are seniors.
That was the key play in the game, according to Filberto.
“It was getting late, and if John Marshall made that first down they had the lead, the clock and the momentum in their favor,” he said. “If they would have punted, we would have a long way to go, so it definitely was the turning point of the game.”
The Red Riders ended up with a drive that resulted in the winning touchdown on a spectacular 16-yard run by senior Tyler Mack.
Frontier at Cameron
Madonna at Beallsville
Bridgeport at Paden City
Ravenswood at Tyler Consolidated
Brooke at Morgantown
Valley at Clay-Battelle
Hannan at Hundred
Carrick, Pa. at Linsly