Golden Bears finish winless season at Magnolia
NEW MARTINSVILLE – On the night when Alumni Field was officially re-christened Bill Stewart Memorial Stadium for the former West Virginia head coach and New Martinsville-proud native, the Magnolia Blue Eagles moved up the Class A playoff ladder with a 54-13 victory against winless Oak Glen.
The stadium was renamed during a moving halftime ceremony which including speeches by Stewart’s son Blaine and former Mountaineer great Owen Schmitt as well as a replay of Stewart’s famous “Leave no Doubt” speech before the Fiesta Bowl and the playing of John Denver’s “Country Roads.”
As for the game, there was little drama, as the Blue Eagles scored on eight straight possessions.
The Blue Eagles weren’t stopped until they stopped themselves with a fumble near the end of the third quarter.
It was a performance Stewart would have been proud of on the field where he proposed to his wife Karen, who was also in attendance.
“It was a great honor, coach Stew was one of the greatest men I’ve known,” Magnolia coach Mark Batton said. “We’ve modeled our program after his program. We don’t talk to our kids about being great football players. We talk to them about being great citizens, about being great men and great fathers when they get there. That’s what is important.”
On Friday night, Magnolia was equal to the task of being great on the field.
Especially senior running back Drew Keller.
On Magnolia’s first drive, Keller broke the school’s career rushing record, held by his brother Jason.
“It gives me family bragging right,” said Keller, who scored four times in the game and finished with 152 yards on 17 carries. “Actually, I think my parents were more happy about it than I was. But it’s a nice thing to have, we’re just concentrating on winning and getting in the playoffs.”
“He joked about it at the beginning of the season,” Batton said. “He said he wanted to have a good season as a team and break his brothers record. It was nice to see him accomplish that.”
Magnolia (6-4, with the four losses coming by a combined 17 points) will likely do that.
“I haven’t really looked at it,” Batton said. “We were just trying to win tonight. I’m proud of these kids. We licked our wounds after the St. Mary’s game (an 11-9 loss) and came back and had two good weeks of practice and had two great wins. We hope to be practicing next week.”
Official pairings will be released Sunday in Parkersburg.
The Blue Eagles had success with a new wrinkle, with Keller running from a wildcat formation.
He had several good runs from the formation.
“Who wouldn’t want to touch the ball more?” Keller said. “I can see the field a little better from that offset formation. It’s just something we’ve been working on.”
While Magnolia marched up and down the field with precision, Oak Glen found the sledding a little tougher, finishing with just 73 total yards.
“They looked like a senior-led team that was getting ready for the playoffs,” Oak Glen coach Jason Kekseo said. “We don’t have that kind of leadership right now. We started three freshmen and eight sophomores. But I’m proud of our kids because they hung in there, took the punch and they never quit. We got beat by a good football team.”
The Blue Eagles rushed for 453 yards in the game and five different players scored, seven by seniors (Keller with four and brothers Eric and Andrew Smith and Yale Wetzel). Freshman Chase Street also scored a touchdown.
Oak Glen finally found the end zone in the fourth, when Alec Swiger and Dakota Price scored.