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Football Lookahead: Red-Hot Bishop Donahue Continues Long Trip

November 14, 2013
By TONY VIOLA , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

McMECHEN - In their minds, the Bishop Donahue football players began postseason play five weeks ago.

The Bishops were 3-3 following a 48-20 loss to Madonna and knew they would have to win out to get a shot at the playoffs, something that eluded them a season ago.

It didn't this year.

Article Photos

Coach John Durdines, left, and Bishops have been in playoff mode for weeks.

After a 47-28 victory against Tyler Consolidated, the Bishops (7-3) enter the West Virginia Class A playoffs as the No. 12 seed and will travel to No. 5 seeded Man for a 1:30 Saturday afternoon showdown at George A. Queen Memorial Field.

While the game marks the first time in nine days the Bishops take the field, they needed every one of them to heal up as three key players were banged up in the victory against the Silver Knights.

Cornerback Josh Miller suffered an apparent knee injury and was taken to the hospital during halftime, while linemen Chase Padlow left the game with an ankle injury and senior Lavonte Hampton was also banged up.

''Chase and Lavonte were limited in practice this week,'' Bishops coach John Durdines said. ''Josh went to get an MRI (Tuesday) and he won't play on Saturday for sure. We hope Lavonte and Chase do, but right now that's still up in the air.

''Obviously they're three huge parts. We've had a lot of kids step up, however, and show we are more than just them.''

The injury to Miller might be the biggest blow to the Bishops as the Hillbillies (9-1) have two receivers in seniors Cayce Mullins and Tracy Jones that have carved up secondaries all season.

The 6-foot-1 Mullins has a team-high 44 receptions and has totaled 534 yards and five scores, while Jones leads the team in both receiving yards (604) and receiving touchdowns (9).

''Its' an adjustment we have to make,'' Durdines said. ''We can't replace Miller. He's basically started every game since his sophomore year. His physicality and coverage skills are going to be hard to replace.''

Durdines is hoping those skills are genetic, as he'll look for Trey Miller, Josh's kid brother, to fill his sibling's shoes.

Following a season opening loss to AAA playoff contender Logan, Man has reeled off nine consecutive victories as Coach Harvey Arms' squad qualified for postseason play for the first time since 2009 when the Hillbillies advanced to the state championship game before suffering a 27-7 setback to Madonna.

''Man is a very, very good team,'' Durdines said. ''They're balanced. They want to run it more than they throw it.''

That was apparent in Man's latest victory, a 61-6 rout of Van, as it totaled 339 rushing yards.

Junior Neil Mullins and Braden Griffin are the top two backs and have combined for 1,050 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Mullins is a punishing, fullback-type runner, while Griffin has quickness that will be hard to contain.

Don't forget about sophomore quarterback John Thomas Keffer, who has completed 57 percent of his passes for 1,170 yards and 14 scores.

Man has averaged 32 points per game and has held opponents to 14.

The Bishop faithful shouldn't worry if this game becomes a shootout, though.

Donahue has the type of offense that's built for that as it has averaged 42 points per game during its four-game winning streak.

Padlow has connected on 129 passes for 1,998 yards and has two interceptions compared to 20 touchdowns.

Even if Hampton, who has caught 39 of those passes for 624 yards and nine scores, is limited come game time, Padlow has been known for spreading the ball around to different receivers.

''We've been able to put points on the board,'' Durdines said. ''I don't want to get into a shootout. I want us to play better defensively. We've had some good defense games and some bad ones. We've made big stops when we needed to.

''Hopefully we won't be in a fall behind situation, but our offense is set to come back.''

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