The Wheeling Central-Bishop Donahue rivalry can be called a lot of things, not the least of which is cordial. Fans may want the two teams to be at each other's throat, but the respect level between Maroon Knights coach Mike Young and John Durdines, coach at Bishop Donahue, is nearing incredible heights.
The two schools will meet again at 7:30 on Friday night at Monarch Stadium in Moundsville.
''The overall perception wants it to be different,'' Durdines said as he readied his Bishops (6-2). ''We don't look at each other, we both want our team to be the best in the state.
''We don't want our teams to be better than Bishop Donahue or Wheeling Central, we don't pinpoint one team.
''There's a ton of respect.''
For Young, it's about competing against another group of tough-minded young men whose primary goal is to represent their community to the best of their ability.
''History suggests that both schools have gutty, hard-nosed kids,'' Young said. ''They want to beat Wheeling Central and I can't blame them.
''It's a respect game for them and they know that. They want their identity to be a pretty doggone good team, too.
''John does a tremendous job with his kids.''
Something else both coaches agree upon, is this is a major matchup in terms of the postseason. Wheelinbg Central enters play at 13th in the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission Class A ratings. Bishop Donahue is 14th.
Durdines stopped short of calling this an elimination game, but the Bishops, who has blown leads in their losses to Clay-Battelle and Madonna (combined one loss) are in need of a signature victory.
''It's hard to say if the loser is definitely out,'' Durdines said. ''You don't know how the playoffs and the points will play out, but the mindset is that we need to win this game and so do they.
''It's obviously a very important game.''
The Maroon Knights (6-3) beat Caldwell 26-13 while the Bishops had their bye week.
''We had a nice win Friday,'' Young said of a game that was played in a driving rain. ''It was ugly, but the kids responded well and I am proud of that.
''They're a physical team, but we came out of the game healthy, which is very important.''
Wheeling Central hasn't had to throw the football much this season, but it has had quarterback C.J. Burch take to the air a little more in recent weeks as he's thrown five touchdowns during that span, including two to tight end Braxton Nolte against the Redskins. Durdines recognizes the trend and says it presents a whole new set of problems.
''They definitely are able to throw the ball a lot better than people give them credit for,'' Durdines said. ''Why throw when they don't have to?''
Young believes the Maroon Knights will have to throw if they make the postseason, which is why there's been emphasis on getting that aspect of their game up to par.
''I think we're throwing it more and that is what is opening up,'' Young said. ''It's something we knew we had to improve on, especially when you're limited to a degree with the number of experienced runners.
''In order for us to be more balanced, have to start throwing the ball.''
The Bishops will counter offensively with sophomore quarterback Jesse Padlow and the two-headed running monster of Saquan Hill and Jordan Bonar.
''They're well balanced,'' Young said. ''We know what we've got to do and we're going to do everything we can to play hard.''