NEW MARTINSVILLE -When the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission announced the pairings for the Class A state high school football playoffs, many observers pontificated the winner of the quarterfinal game between Wheeling Central and Magnolia would assume the role of favorite.
But a funny thing happened on the way to New Martinsville. Wheeling Central, the perennial Class A power that has dominated the division over the past decade, got upset in the first round. Upset by an upstart, East Hardy, by the shocking score of 60-34.
Thus it will be East Hardy - whose only loss is to No. 1 Tucker County, 21-16 - making its way to New Martinsville on Saturday night to face Magnolia in a battle of 10-1 teams.
But it won't be just the Magnolia team providing the opposition. East Hardy will be up against the entire town of New Martinsville, which goes all-out for the Blue Eagles.
"There are signs everywhere,'' said veteran Magnolia coach Mark Batton. "The community really gets behind us.''
That was apparent during Magnolia's 34-7 win over the state's other perennial Class A power, Williamstown, last Friday night.
W.Va. Prep Football Playoffs
No. 1 Cabell Midland 52, No. 16 Oak Hill 20
No. 8 Spring Valley 31, No. 9 Wheeling Park 7
No. 4 Huntington 69, No. 13 Elkins 32
No. 5 Morgantown 49, No. 12 Point Pleasant 28
No. 2 Martinsburg 39, No. 16 Woodrow Wilson 0
No. 10 Musselman 42, No. 7 Capital 23
No. 3 George Washington 35, No. 14 Hurricane 10
No. 11 Lewis County 24, No. 6 University 23
No. 8 Spring Valley (8-3) at No. 1 Cabell Midland (11-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
No. 5 Morgantown (9-2) at No. 4 Huntington (9-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday
No. 10 Musselman (8-3) at No. 2 Martinsburg (10-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday
No. 11 Lewis County (9-2) at No. 3 George Washington (9-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Cabell Midland/Spring Valley winner vs. Huntington/Morgantown winner, TBA
Martinsburg/Musselman winner vs. George Washington/Lewis County winner, TBA
at Wheeling Island Stadium, 12 noon, Saturday, Dec. 1
No. 1 Wayne 63, No. 16 Clay County 24
No. 9 Nicholas County 31, No. 8 Ritchie County 7
No. 4 Robert C. Byrd 27, No. 13 Braxton County 21
No. 5 Bluefield 63, No. 12 Roane County 27
No. 2 Keyser 61, No. 15 Mingo Central 14
No. 7 Scott 46-16, No. 10 Wyoming East 16
No. 3 Bridgeport 54, No. 14 River View 6
No. 6 Frankfort 38, No. 11 Summers County 7
No. 9 Nicholas County (7-3) at No. 1 Wayne (11-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday
No. 5 Bluefield (9-2) at No. 4 Robert C. Byrd (10-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday
No. 7 Scott (8-3) at No. 2 Keyser (10-1), 1:30 p.m. Saturday
No. 6 Frankfort (9-2) at No. 3 Bridgeport (9-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Wayne/Nicholas County winner vs. Robert C. Byrd/Bluefield winner, TBA
Keyser/Scott winner vs. Bridgeport/Frankfort winner, TBA
at Wheeling Island Stadium, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30
No. 1 Tucker County 27, No. 16 Moorefield 14
No. 8 Clay-Battelle 33, No. 9 Valley (F) 28
No. 4 Madonna 58, No. 13 Tug Valley 12
No. 5 St. Marys 40, No. 12 Wirt County 14
No. 2 Magnolia 34, No. 15 Williamstown 7
No. 7 East Hardy 60, No. 10 Wheeling Central 34
No. 3 Wahama 38, No. 14 Buffalo 0
No. 6 Greenbrier West 48, No. 11 Meadow Bridge 6
No. 8 Clay-Battelle (10-1) at No. 1 Tucker County (11-0), 1:30 p.m. Saturday
No. 5 St. Marys (10-1) at No. 4 Madonna (10-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday
No. 7 East Hardy (10-1) at No. 2 Magnolia (10-1), 7:30 p.m. Saturday
No. 6 Greenbrier West (10-1) at No. 3 Wahama (11-0), 1:30 p.m. Saturday
Tucker County/Clay-Battelle winner vs. Madonna/St. Marys winner, TBA
Magnolia/East Hardy winner vs. Wahama/Greenbrier West winner, TBA
at Wheeling Island Stadium, 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1
The stands were jammed.
"It was a nice, large crowd,'' Batton said.
Batton has been around the playoffs long enough to know the advantages of playing at home.
He's taken teams to virtually every nook and cranny of the Mountain State.
That won't be necessary this year. Thanks to being the No. 2 seed with a 10-1 mark, Magnolia will be at home until the Super Six state championships are conducted in Wheeling.
Magnolia has so many weapons, it is a nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators.
The biggest nightmare is wide receiver Stephen Rogalski. He possesses so much speed, virtually no individual can cover him. But put more than one defender on him and Magnolia has other athletes who can take advantage of that situation.
Quarterback Tyler Hanna has become expert at managing the game. He's an intelligent player who understands the game and what is taking place on the field. He not only can beat you with his athletic ability, but also with his brain.
Magnolia is multi-dimensional. When Hanna isn't getting the ball to Rogalski, he is handing it off to Drew Keller or Kage Rhode. Rhode has blossomed this season, giving Magnolia a double running threat and complimenting Keller.
Batton is quick to also compliment those who play in the trenches.
"Our line guys really work together,'' Batton said. "They are the unsung heroes.''
The rest of the state shuddered when Magnolia dropped from Class AA to Class A. Already, the Blue Eagles are making a name for themselves in their new home.
With the perennial powers already eliminated, Magnolia has assumed the mantle of favorite in Class A.