Playoffs arrived early for Bishop Donahue

McMECHEN, W.Va. – More than a month has passed since Bishop Donahue has been fighting for its playoff life.

And so far, the Bishops have responded by winning five straight games.

At 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, they will visit Williamstown High School and meet the fourth-ranked Yellowjackets (9-2) in a Class A quarterfinal contest.

A 3-3 start is a thing of the past for the 12th-ranked Bishops (8-3).

“Basically, we knew going into Week 7 that was our playoffs,” said Bishop Donahue’s 12-year head coach John Durdines. “We had to win from that point on. So basically, we’ve been going on the win or go home mentality.

“I think that helped us (last week) against Man. We played four really good teams to finish out the season, and we had to play our hardest against Man because there was no tomorrow.”

Bishop Donahue passed its first test of the postseason by defeating Man, 21-16. The Bishops were impressive on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Jesse Padlow threw for 353 yards and three touchdowns, while on defense Bishop Donahue recorded eight sacks and intercepted three passes.

Sitting on a bus 4 1/2 hours was well worth the trip.

“I would say that was our best defensive effort,” Durdines said. “Man is a very big team -they were a physical team and we had gameplanned all week about taking away the run and making them one-dimensional.

“The kids responded so incredibly well. We were hitting each and every gap.”

Padlow’s production is nothing new for Bishop Donahue. Despite missing two games with an injury, the junior threw for more than 2,000 yards during the regular season.

“You coach it, you teach it but I can’t take the credit for what he has done,” Durdines said. “He takes what we give like a sponge and applies it out there on the field.”

Padlow’s favorite targets on Saturday were Jared Yates (5-179, 2 TDs) and Chaice Truex (7-129). Lavonte Hampton is another option in Bishop Donahue’s offense.

“(Padlow) keeps all the receivers involved,” Durdines said. “There have been three to four games where he has thrown to eight different receivers. Man really keyed on Hampton a lot, but he understands if he is getting double and triple coverage somebody else is open and (Padlow) is finding them.”

Even though Williamstown has not played Bishop Donahue during Terry Smith’s 10 years as the Yellowjacket head coach, Durdines got an up close and personal look at his quarterfinal opponent during Williamstown’s home game with Roane County. The Bishops had played the night before and Durdines calculated his program would meet Williamstown in the opening round.

East Hardy, however, was upset and that loss bumped the Bishops up one notch in the rankings.

“Williamstown does a lot of things well – defensively, they fly around to the ball,” Durdines said. “They disguise things well. Basically we just have to make sure we get our pre- and post-snaps reads and execute our blocks.