PARKERSBURG, W.Va. -- Magnolia's fondness for the wildcat formation is rooted deeper than the Blue Eagles' recent run to the Class A playoff semifinals might indicate.
Senior running back Drew Keller ran for 293 yards and four touchdowns Saturday as No. 14 seed Magnolia (8-4) pounded sixth-seeded Moorefield 37-7. Much of Keller's yardage came from running the wildcat, a formation Magnolia also used as the senior ran for 239 yards and three scores in a 42-16 win over No. 3 seed Valley in the first round.
The formation has been fashionable for some teams in the past five years, but cast against a backdrop of Magnolia's heritage - the program has produced a record 10 All-State quarterbacks - Keller's recent success seems somewhat of an oddity.
Magnolia Coach Mark Batton said he has used the tactic in the past.
"In the past few years we've implemented a little part of that. We actually started that with Josh Sims," Batton said.
Sims was Magnolia's quarterback in 2004 and 2005, and he was the Class AA All-State co-captain as a utility player his senior year.
"We'd lost our quarterback and Josh was back there at tailback. We were in the football office drawing things up and thought, 'Just eliminate the quarterback and have the snap go directly to Josh,'" Batton said. "Now he's in his tailback position anyway.
"Back then, we didn't quite have the imagination for the offense than what's going on now with coach (Doc) Chapman, but we thought we could work with Drew back there a little bit."
Keller (5-foot-9, 180 pounds) was an All-State pick at running back in 2012, and has 1,688 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns entering Magnolia's semifinal game at No. 7 seed Greenbrier West (11-1). The teams meet at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The Blue Eagles brought the tactic out of the mothballs during their most recent loss, which was at St. Marys on Oct. 18. In four wins since that game, Magnolia has outscored its opposition 157-36.
With a win this week, Magnolia can become the lowest-seeded team to reach the Class A state championship game since Wheeling Central won the state championship as a No. 15 seed in 2005.
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IT HASN'T been too long since Greenbrier West and Magnolia have come face-to-face in the postseason. Magnolia blew out the Cavaliers 41-7 in the 2010 Class AA semifinals in New Martinsville.