NEW MARTINSVILLE, W.Va. - Magnolia took it personally after suffering a one-point setback to Linsly in its season-opener.
After all, the Blue Eagles didn't want a repeat of what transpired the previous year when they failed to qualify for the postseason for the first time in seven years.
"Especially with those seniors, after the Linsly loss they felt it and it hurt them," Magnolia coach Mark Batton said. "That bothered them, and just look at what they have done since."
The Blue Eagles responded by winning nine straight games to finish the regular season at 9-1 and earn the No. 2 ranking for the Class A state playoffs. Their first-round opponent is a familiar foe in 15th-ranked Williamstown (6-4) for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff Friday at Alumni Field in New Martinsville.
The two programs meet annually and earlier this year at Alumni Field, Magnolia kept Williamstown's offense in check while producing a 24-7 victory. The only blemish against the Blue Eagles' defense occurred on the second play from scrimmage in the third quarter when Yellowjacket fullback David Hastings raced 63 yards for a touchdown.
"That was two months ago and I'm sure a lot of things have changed," Batton said. "I'm sure (Williamstown coach Terry Smith) is anxious to look at us and see what we've done differently as we are to see what they are doing differently."
Magnolia is only two seasons removed from having captured the Class AA state title with a 14-0 record. The school moved into the Class A ranks this past summer, but continued to push the envelope in its scheduling.
In addition to knocking off last year's Class A state runner-up in Williamstown, the Blue Eagles defeated Class A powerhouse and two-time defending Class A state champion Wheeling Central, 17-13, in week 5.
Magnolia's offense, which is averaging 35.2 points per outing, has been on a tear since the second half of the season and outscoring opponents by an average margin of 43-9.
Major components of Magnolia's success are running backs Drew Keller (188-1,032 with 11 TDs) and Kage Rohde (100-688 with 14 TDs), quarterback Tanner Hanna (80-of-149 for 1,159 yards, 10 TDs) and all-state wide receiver Stephen Rogalski (48-746, 4 TDs).
"Other teams have really been focused on taking Stephen away from us," Batton said.
"But the minute you take him away, now you turn around and have Keller and Rohde running the ball. Tanner does a great job of managing the game."
Playing a vital supporting role is Magnolia's offensive line, along with wide-outs Ryan Walton and Gage Deem.
Magnolia seeks its fourth victory against Williamstown in the past five meetings. Before their matchup in 2009 when both teams were ranked No. 1 in their respective classes and Magnolia pulled out an emotional 14-12 win, the Yellowjackets had not lost to the Blue Eagles since 2001.
Batton and his staff are well aware that Williamstown is surging at the right time after ending the regular season with three straight wins.
"Williamstown is probably the hottest team in single-A right now," Batton said. "We know they will bring their 'A' game and play hard. That's a physical bunch.
"They have a great running game and quarterback Jake Tracewell does a tremendous job back there running that offense. They also bring a great defense at you, so it will be a major challenge and hopefully our guys are up to the task."