As is usually the case, both Monroe Central and Magnolia came into the season with high expectations.
At the halfway point, the Blue Eagles are soaring and the Seminoles are reeling.
They'll get the chance to play one another Friday night in Woodsfield.
File Photo by Scott McCloskey
Magnolia running back Kage Rohde (27) and quarterback Tanner Hanna (7) will have their hands full with Monroe Central this week.
The Seminoles come into the game at 3-2, but they're coming off a tough-to-swallow 28-0 reversal at Fort Frye, which has led to a lot of head scratching for coach Jay Circosta.
"We had a long talk after we got back from Fort Frye because that kind of performance was just totally out of character for us," Circosta said. "It wasn't just one thing, but a combination of things and it's tough to put a finger on it. I've been lying awake at night trying to come up with ways to correct it and make it better if I can."
One area that's totally out of Circosta's control is in the health department. The Seminoles are a banged up football team and have also battled their fair share of illness.
"Last week was a disaster, but there's still half a season left and we know we've got our work cut out for us," Circosta said. "I think we've got a lot of winnable games left, but we've got to stay away from future injuries and get things turned around."
While the Seminoles are trying to re-group, the Blue Eagles have won four straight since opening the season with a one-point loss to Linsly. Included in their winning streak was a hard-earned 17-13 victory against Wheeling Central last week.
"That was definitely a nice win for us," Magnolia coach Mark Batton said. "It might not have been the prettiest game, but a win is a win."
Batton knows regardless of any struggles the Seminoles might be enduring, winning along Jay Circosta Boulevard is never an easy task.
"There is great tradition and a great atmosphere in Woodsfield," Batton said. "We know they've been struggling with injuries and illness, but we have no doubt that Coach Circosta will have his team ready to play Friday."
The Seminoles are led by senior quarterback Korey Lafferre, who's been impressive in his first season under center. He's passed for 353 yards and two touchdowns. He's been highly productive on the ground, amassing 525 yards and scoring eight touchdowns.
Senior Levi Brown serves as the Seminoles' tailback. He's ran for 380 yards this season.
"Monroe does a lot of different things offensively," Batton noted. "I think Korey Lafferre is a really nice player. He's got great feet and vision. He does a good job of running their offense. We have to know where he's at and what he's doing on every play."
The Blue Eagles' offense is highlighted by explosive senior Stephen Rogalski, who is one of the Ohio Valley's most electric players.
Rogalski has been battling a shoulder injury, but still played and came through in a big way against the Knights last weekend, including catching a 76-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tanner Hanna.
"We've got a big challenge this week against a good football team," Circosta said. "They've got a veteran quarterback and one of the best wide receivers in the state of West Virginia. He can go at any play. Plus, they line him up at different spots, which also makes it tough."
The Blue Eagles' ground game is led by Drew Keller, who had 83 yards and a score last week.
The Seminoles' defense has been solid this season, but injuries have started to take a toll. Again, Batton believes they'll have it figured out by Friday.
"They always play hard," Batton said. "They play aggressively up front and they're always well prepared. They're really good at what they do and it causes you to prepare a game plan a little differently."