WHEELING - Bishop Donahue, Wheeling Central and Magnolia are making themselves late invitees to the postseason, but invitees nonetheless.
After each got through brutal early-season schedules, the three area schools are each a victory away from a postseason berth.
"We're in a lot better position than we were three weeks ago," Bishop Donahue coach John Durdines said. "We knew we were going to face three good teams, Beallsville, which is in the Ohio playoffs, Wheeling Central and now Tyler Consolidated (7 p.m. Thursday in Moundsville), which has been lights out the last five games (winning all five). We told the kids at that point our playoffs were starting."
Alex Riedel (9), Lane LeMasters (56) and the Bishops have surged late in the season.
With a victory against Tyler, which doesn't look like it will be able to make the playoffs even with a win, Bishop could finish as high as 13th, meaning a road date with No. 4 team.
Wheeling Central is in the same boat.
Win and the Maroon Knights are in.
They will travel to the Eastern Panhandle - they will leave Friday, practice at Morgantown High School and then stay all night before the Saturday afternoon game - to face Spring Mills, a new school.
The AAA Cardinals have no seniors, but will, Central coach Mike Young said, be a tough matchup for the injury-riddled Knights.
"Halfway through the season, we tell our kids there are no freshmen, sophomores or juniors, they are all sophomore, juniors and seniors," Young said. "They have a good team. And they have played a tough schedule, facing Martinsburg and Jefferson and a lot of big school powers."
A Central victory would put the Maroon Knights at a likely 14 or 15 seed, meaning they would likely face undefeated St. Mary's or Valley-Fayette.
Magnolia is also a victory against Oak Glen from making the final 16 in one of the better stories of the season.
It's probably the most deserved spot, as the Blue Eagles have lost to some of the state's top Class A teams, including No. 2 St. Mary's (11-9) and Williamstown (15-14) on last-second field goals. They also lost to 8-2 Linsly (14-7) and Wheeling Central (27-20), although in that game Magnolia was setting up for a game-winning field goal down 21-20 but it was blocked and returned for a touchdown as time expired.
All Magnolia did was beat 8-1 Steubenville 24-0 last Saturday.
Magnolia can secure a 14-15 seed as well with a victory.
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