6:00pm: Sportsline with Tony Caridi

Magnolia Wins Class AA Title

Magnolia captured its second ever high school football state championship by dominating the first half and holding on to knock off Ravenswood 28-13 Friday night in Wheeling. 

Coming into the game it was expected to be a matchup that would come down to the play of the two teams’ quarterbacks – Justin Fox for Magnolia and Cole Starcher for the Red Devils.  But early in the contest, it was Magnolia running back Jayson Keller that stole the show.  He rushed for 100 yards on his first seven carries, including a 60 yard run on the Blue Eagles opening drive.  He would score two plays later from three yards out and Magnolia jumped out to the early 7-0 lead with 10:07 to go in the first half.

After both teams swapped interceptions, things would get worse for the Red Devils as a muffed punt gave Magnolia excellent field position.  Keller would deliver again for Magnolia with a 19 yard touchdown run to give the Blue Eagles the 14-0 lead with 7:28 to go in the first quarter.  That would be the score heading into the second quarter as Magnolia outgained the Red Devils 105-11 yards in offensive production.

In that second quarter, Fox would cap off a 10 play, 54 yard touchdown drive with a quarterback sneak.  It was his 38th overall touchdown on the year.  With 3:37 to go until the half, it appeared to be a rout as Magnolia was well in control with a 21-0 lead. 

Then with just 29 seconds to go in the half, Fox would come up big on the defensive end of the ball, intercepting a Starcher pass and returning it 32 yards for another Magnolia touchdown.  The Blue Eagles went into the break up 28-0.

It was a completely different Ravenswood team in the second half, however.  The Red Devils got the ball to start off the third quarter and promptly drove right down the field, scoring on a Chad Small run inside the five yard line.  Ravenswood went 84 yards in 10 plays on the drive – the Red Devils had just 25 yards on 30 plays in the first half alone.

Magnolia would move the ball well on its ensuing possession, but a critical fumble would give the ball back to the Red Devils at their own four yard line.  The two teams would enter the fourth quarter with the score 28-7 Magnolia out in front.  That’s when Cole Starcher would take the game over on the ground.  He marched the Red Devils down the field 80 yards on eight plays, capping the drive off with a five yard touchdown scamper.  The extra point was no good, but Ravenswood had closed the deficit to 28-13 with 10:45 to go.

Magnolia, however, would drain five minutes off of the clock on its next drive and was able to hold on for the 15 point win.

Overall, the statistics ended up pretty even.  Magnolia finished with 287 offensive yards while Ravenswood tallied 279. 

It’s Magnolia’s first state title since 1964.

“What a feeling,” said Magnolia head coach Mark Batton.  “46 years we’ve waited for this… I don’t care where you’re at, it’s a proud night to be a Blue Eagle.”

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