St. Marys not taking Magnolia face-off lightly

ST. MARYS — Jodi Mote is well aware of the record Magnolia brings with them to the matchup against his Class AAA No. 3 Blue Devils at 7:30 p.m. Friday night inside Bill Hanlin Stadium.

Doc Chapman’s squad sits at 2-5 riding a five-game losing streak, but the results haven’t been because of a lack of effort.

“They are one of the top 16 teams in the state on paper but aren’t going to get in to the playoffs because of their schedule,” said Mote. “They have been competitive in every game they have played except for last week. That is from a coach’s perspective where you try to tell your kids this is not a typical 2-5 team. Magnolia could easily be 6-1. You hope your kids are ready to meet the challenge.”

The Blue Eagles appeared to be on their way to building positive momentum coming into the Week 8 matchup. Chapman’s defense forced three turnovers and had an early 9-7 lead against Crestview (Ohio) going into halftime last Friday. However, their opponents evaporated the good feelings by reeling off 47 unanswered second-half points on the way to a 54-9 triumph.

Running back Hunter Patridge along with wide receivers Brooks Parsons and Leo Herrick are a large part of the challenge presented to the Blue Devils (5-0). Parsons returned a kickoff for a score last season against St. Marys. Herrick stands as one of the most physical receivers to face off against the Blue Devils, while Partridge announced his talent earlier this year with a monster 359-yard rushing performance against Williamstown in Week 2.

Add to those three dual-threat quarterback Patrick Mirandy, who has filled in well at signal caller after the graduation of Nick Priem, and you have a quartet of weapons who on paper are tough to defend.

Paving the way for those players is “one of the best offensive lines we have faced this year” according to Mote. Twin brothers Cameron and James Stillwagoner lead strong units on both sides of the trenches.

“I honestly believe this will be a run-pass option very similar to Marietta just looking at film,” said Mote. “Their quarterback is a thrower, their receivers are weapons and at the same time they have the Partridge kid who can run the ball too.”

St. Marys comes into the matchup red-hot as winners of 19 in a row after a 61-6 victory over Calhoun County last weekend. However, the injury bug has bitten them after staying away during their run to a state title last year.

Starting quarterback Eric Illar and running back Jaiden Smith are both game-time decisions with undisclosed issues. Neither player saw the field last week against the Red Raiders.

Instead Matt Eichhorn stepped in at quarterback, completing 4 of 6 passes for 133 yards with two touchdown passes to Dylan Gray. The senior also scored two times on special teams. He returned the opening kickoff 74 yards, then took Calhoun’s first punt 47 stripes to paydirt.

“I felt he did a nice job of moving the ball,” said Mote. “I also am glad he got a game under his belt.”

Steele meanwhile compiled 176 yards on the ground on just 13 carries.

“It is what it is,” said Mote when asked about the injuries. “It is unfortunate but that is football. We have always had the philosophy “man down, man up.” You do the best you can with whoever steps up to answer the call.

“We are up against a very skilled football team this week. The message in practice this week is “You have to be ready” all week long, but we won’t know until 7:30 p.m. Friday night.”

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