NEW MARTINSVILLE - Justin Fox and Magnolia are a match made in Heaven. The player has been good for the school, and the school also for the player.
Somewhat suddenly, though, the most-prolific passer at a school with arguably the richest tradition of just such players, has played his final game at Alumni Field. Fear not, Blue Eagles fans: he hasn't played his last high school game.
After another in a long line of typical nights at the old ball field, Magnolia (13-0) earned the right to play in its second West Virginia Class AA state championship game with a 41-7 waxing of previously unbeaten Greenbrier West (12-1). The No. 2 Blue Eagles will meet No. 1 Ravenswood next Friday night at 7:30 on the turf at Wheeling Island Stadium.
The only thing sweeter than leading his team to a title, would be capping his illustrious career with a Kennedy Award, which is given annually to the state's top player.
''It would be the ultimate dream,'' Fox said. ''I don't know what I would do.
''It just gives me cold chills to think about.''
The thought not having Fox around any more gives his coach, Mark Batton, the cold sweats. After all, he's been around for all 51 games the 5-foot-11, 175-pound QB has started, and he's walked away as a winner 43 of those times.
Like myself, Batton hasn't seen every player in the state, but knows what he has in Fox.
''What makes (him) worthy is, just because of who Justin Fox is and what he represents,'' Batton said. ''The leadership quality on him - I know the Kennedy is based on what's that guy do for his team - but I don't know of a player in this state that means more to a team than Justin Fox does. ''
How right he is.
After standing in the cold all night Friday, I admit my brain has iciles hanging from it. But I can't think of another player in the state who would be a guaranteed first team all-state selection at four positions. He quarterbacks, plays defensive back, punts and kicks. In his spare time he also returns punts.
Let's take a look at the numbers.
''It's a team thing - I can't do it without my teammates,'' Fox said. ''It's a real honor to get all those records done, but I give a lot of credit to my team and it's a great time.
''At the beginning of the year we said we wanted to get back to the island and take it all. We put our mind to it, and the next thing you know we're back on the island and going for it all.''
It's worth noting that all those school records were previously held by one Mark Cisar, whose numbers were good enough to win back-to-back Kennedy Awards. I know, it took Fox four years to do what Cisar did in two. But Cisar didn't have three of the top tailbacks in school history - Steve Zadjowicz, Dillon Jackson and Stingray Bates - taking away opportunities.
''He's a special person, and that's why I pushed for him to get (the award),'' Batton said. ''He matured, and the reason he matured is because he worked at it. I mean, he was in this weight room all winter long, all summer long and he worked out on his own.
''He grabs every game film of the opponent we've got and he studies that stuff. And that's your maturity.
''And I know these other guys are good football players, good athletes and good people, but Justin's close to my heart and I'll do anything in the world possible to promote him for something like that.''
Shawn Rine can be reached via e-mail at Rine@theintelligencer.net