When undefeated Notre Dame rolls into Monarch Stadium in Moundsville on Saturday night, waiting for the Clarksburg Notre Dame Fighting Irish will be an eager Bishop Donahue football team that is excited about playing a No. 1-rated opponent.
Last weekend's loss by Greenbrier West was expected to lift Coach Sam Alvaro's 3-0 record club into the top spot of the West Virginia Class A ratings.
''It's definitely going to be a challenge and our work will be cut out,'' said John Durdines, the coach for the 3-1 Bishops. ''But we are looking forward to the opportunity. We think we have some pretty good players too.''
File Photo by Alex Kozlowski
Bishop Donahue running back Saquan Hill (23) runs against St. John last week.
Bishop Donahue dominated on both sides of the ball during its 47-0 victory against Bellaire St. John Central (2-2) this past week. Defensively, the Bishops held the improving visitors to less than 80 yards and twice kept them out of the end zone despite first-and-goal situations from inside the 5. On offense, the Bishops collected more than 500 yards with an impressive display of running, passing and catching the football.
Durdines believes the Bishops will need all those cylinders clicking again to stretch their currening winning streak to three straight since a disappointing loss during week two to still unbeaten Clay-Battelle.
''Obviously they are a really good team,'' Durdines said when asked about the matchup. ''The offense is very explosive. The running back (Santino Cava) is a strong kid with a thick body. He is hard to tackle and pretty quick for his size.''
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Cava continued to sparkle during his sophomore season by rushing 27 times for 197 yards and two touchdowns as the Fighting Irish finally wore down Valley 30-0. Notre Dame led the upset-minded Lumberjacks 13-0 well into the third quarter before putting the game away.
Notre Dame's offense also features a dangerous passing-receiving combination in senior Tony Sestito and junior T.J. McKinsey. Sestito, a 6-3, 195-pound quarterback found McKinsey (6-2, 202) for an 11-yard score.
''The quarterback throws a great ball and the receiver is somebody we are going to have to step up and defend,'' Durdines noted. ''Size and speed-wise, this should be a good matchup for us across the board.
''Except for the Clay-Battle game when we couldn't finish any drives, our offense is improving and we've worked really hard every week on defense.''
Bishop Donahue has a plethora of offensive weapons capable of challenging any rival's defensive scheme.
Sophomore Quarterback Jesse Padlow continues to pick up his game. The 6-for-11, 156-yard, two-touchdown effort against St. John Central boosted Padlow's season numbers to 38 of 67, 537 yards and five touchdowns. The interception he threw last week was his first of the year.
''Jesse is going to be a very good one,'' Durdines praised.
In seniors Jordan Bonar and Saquan Hill, plus junior Lavonte Hampton, the Bishops offer a trio of dangerous running backs. Bonar is a threat running and catching the football every time he gets his hand on it. Against St. John, he turned in a play that should have Bishop Donahue fans talking for a quite while. Bonar, a wrestler during the winter months, used his strong hands and strength to take the ball away from a St. John defensive back before turning and running the last 40 yards to the end zone to complete a 62-yard scoring play.
Bonar also scored on a 4-yard run, one play after alert teammate Kris Wood recovered the football when the Fighting Irish failed to cover a kickoff along the sideline.
Both Hill and Hampton went past 100 yards on the ground and found the end zone twice each.
Hampton, often lined up at quarterback in the Donahue pistol set, averaged more than 20 yards per carry, dashing for 121 yards on six attempts. His touchdowns came on runs of 16 and26 yards.
Hill also flashed his quickness and versatility with 118 yards on 10 carries, scoring on a 36-yard run and adding a receiving TD from the 10 while running a slant pattern.
Overall, the Bishops had 513 yards, 357 rushing and 156 via the air lanes.