NEW MARTINSVILLE -The derecho is ancient history, but its lingering effects show up on occasion.
Through countless hours of volunteer help, Magnolia High School showcased its new press box facility earlier this season at Alumni Field after the original was demolished during last summer's storm.
Even though Williamstown has already played one regular season game this year in New Martinsville, the Yellowjacket coaching staff and video people have not been fortunate enough to experience the current setup.
Photo courtesy of Michael Uhl
Magnolia wide receiver Stephen Rogalski catches a pass against Williamstown in the Blue Eagles’ 24-7 win earlier this season at Alumni Field in New Martinsville. The two schools meet again at the same site on Friday night for the first round of the Class A state playoffs.
That all changes on Friday night when Williamstown and Magnolia hook up for a second time for the opening round of the Class A state playoffs. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.
"Our press box is up and running, and everything is intact - the Williamstown coaches and their video guys are not going to be on lifts like they were earlier this season," Magnolia coach Mark Batton said Sunday as the coaches who qualified for the postseason gathered at the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission office. "I felt bad for their guys having to go up in that lift, which it was the same for our coaches.
"I thought (Magnolia athletic director) Brian Castilow and the administration, and everybody did a great job getting the game going anyway."
Second-ranked Magnolia (9-1) has won nine in a row since losing by one point (21-20) to Linsly in its season-opener.
A major reason why the Yellowjackets have won three games in a row and allowed just 23 points in during that span is the play of junior linebacker David Hastings. Last week in a 41-7 victory at Roane County in both teams' regular-season finale, Hastings finished with 18 tackles and recorded four quarterback sacks, including two in the first half which ended Raider drives deep in Williamstown territory.
Just for good measure, at fullback, Hastings also rushed for 101 yards on just six carries and scored two touchdowns.
"David had a monster night," Williamstown coach Terry Smith said. "He is starting to feel comfortable and has everything going. Instead of worrying here or there, he is leading us."
"We had kids that had 2 feet or more snow in their yards," Rollyson said during Sunday's WVSSAC state playoff meeting. "As important as the game was, recovering from that storm was more important to our kids and our community."
The game, which Braxton won by a score of 37-14, was moved to Saturday at the University of Charleston/Laidley Field, began badly for the Eagles as Sissonville jumped out to a lead.
"You could tell that we hadn't practiced much," said the coach. "Some of our kids had only one practice the entire week. But to our kids credit, they kept battling and found a way to win that game."
Both were accomplished with Ritchie's 63-13 win over Grafton on senior night and now second-year head coach Mike Dawson and his team are looking to reach the second round of the playoffs.
"I had people in the community asking me this morning (Sunday) if we were going to get to host a playoff game and I hadn't even gone to the meeting to find out if we were going to be one of the host schools," said Dawson. "I'm sure everyone in the community will be excited on Friday. It's a big thing and something these seniors have worked very hard to accomplish."