- Magnolia: The Magnolia football program received a shot in the arm from its incoming freshman class.
Last year, the Blue Eagles dressed 31 players at the varsity level. When the first week of practice concluded Friday in New Martinsville, the roster contained 38 members, including 16 freshmen.
"That's real encouraging," Magnolia coach Mark Batton said. "Last year, it was really tough - especially when we had some kids banged up. It was tough being able to line up and scrimmage."
Photo by Kerry Patrick
Magnolia first-year assistant coach Eric Mason shows a defensive formation to one of his players during a practice last week in New Martinsville. Mason is a 2006 Magnolia graduate.
Magnolia plans to schedule a full slate of junior varsity games. A drastic comparison to 2011.
"Last year, we were only able to play two JV games because of the lack of numbers," Batton continued. "We have a nice freshman group, but going from junior high ball to playing on Friday nights is a major step."
Batton welcomed two new additions to his coaching staff in the form of John Smith and Eric Mason. Smith is a 2002 Magnolia graduate who was a two-time, first team all-stater at linebacker and named defensive captain during his senior year. Mason graduated from Magnolia in 2006 and spent his career as a Blue Eagle lining up at tight end, defensive end and linebacker.
"We have two energetic guys back that know (assistant coach Bob Ripley's) defense and he is excited about that," Batton said. "They are enthusiastic and doing a really great job with the younger players. We're just tickled to death to have them.
"They are the first two of my players to coach for me - I don't know whether I am getting old or what, but it's nice to know some of your players are involved in coaching and want to be a part of it."
Magnolia's first scrimmage is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Clairsville. The Blue Eagles then play host to St. Marys at 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 17 before opening the regular season the following Saturday night at Linsly at Wheeling Island Stadium.
- Wahama: Veteran head coach Ed Cromley welcomed 44 players to the first week of practice for the White Falcons.
Wahama is coming off of back-to-back one loss seasons, reaching the state (Class A) championship game in 2010 and the semifinals a year ago. But, the loss of 22 seniors have many wondering if 2012 will be the year the team suffers from a talent-loss.
Not according to Cromley, who has compiled a 135-59 won-loss record in 17 years at the Mason County school.
"I think it (winning) comes from having a run of good players," said the coach. "They come through sometimes in waves and we got on that wave the last couple of years. Now, you have to have juniors and sophomores that are going to have to step up and we feel like we have some of those this year."
Seven seniors dot this year's lineup including starting quarterback Trenton Gibbs as well as running back/linebacker Zach Wamsley.
- Ravenswood: How would you like to be a first-year head coach and make your home debut against a team that won the state championship last year? Then, follow that game up with another home game against a state runnerup?
That's the task facing Ravenswood head football coach Mick Price this fall.
After the Red Devils open the season on the road at Herbert Hoover and Roane County, they return to the friendly confines of Flinn Field for back-to-back home games against defending Class AA state champion Wayne and defending Class A state runnerup Williamstown.
Ravenswood is one of the few schools in the state whose schedule includes teams in all three classes. The Red Devils play seven games against Class AA foes, meet Williamstown and St. Marys from Class A, and arch-rival Ripley, a Class AAA school.