WILLIAMSTOWN - At its core, football is a game of blocking and tackling.
Bishop Donahue coach John Durdines will tell you straight up his club didn't do either very well Saturday against Williamstown. Throw in a trio of interceptions and it is pretty easy to understand how a 13-12 Williamstown lead midway through the second quarter snowballed into a 54-12 Yellowjackets victory in the teams' West Virginia Class A state quarterfinal.
''Our tackling was atrocious,'' Durdines said. ''We were in the right places but we just didn't wrap.
''Now, credit goes to Williamstown because their kids ran hard and ran right through the tackles.
''It starts up front and it ends with the ballcarrier going down, and we did a poor job of that.''
Even with the skill the Bishops possess, their calling card all season was the big boys up front. When junior Chase Padlow went down early in the first quarter with an ankle injury, that changed the complexion dramatically. Not only was he having his way with Williamstown, but defensively, it forced Donahue to switch from its base 4-4 defense to a 3-3 stack.
The results, well, they were not kind.
''A lot of that came down to depth and we didn't have the extra lineman, so I tried to put my best 11 on the field,'' Durdines said. ''We still kept six in the box but whenever they spread us out we ended up with three and three instead of four and two.
''But it still all comes down to assignments. Like I said, we were there a lot of the time but we just didn't do it.''
When it's going badly, it just is. For the Bishops, that was the case as soon as they stepped off the bus into extremely windy conditions. That no doubt contributed to three interceptions thrown by QB Jesse Padlow, who had thrown that many in his first 11 games combined.
Then there's this: Padlow banged his thumb off a helmet early in the first half and didn't tell anyone until the team was headed back to McMechen on the bus. The thumb was extremely swollen and black and blue, and Padlow went to the hospital for X-rays.
''The whole week all were were thinking was 'no wind,' " Durdines said. ''Wind is probably the worst condition for our offense.
''We deal with rain and we prepare for rain in different situations where we throw around wet balls. Jesse's fine there and the receivers are fine there.''
Again, though, all the rest is secondary to the tackling. All but two of Williamstown's touchdowns - one came on an interception - went for 30 or more yards, and each time at least one Donahue defender got a hand on the ballcarrier.
''I don't know, but from just live on the sidelines, we must have had 15-20 missed tackles where we just didn't wrap,'' Durdines said, shaking his head. ''We had been doing that well for the last several weeks.
''We played against Tyler and the (Jacob) Highley kid, and if you don't wrap him, you're in trouble. For some reason it just seemed like we stopped wrapping and didn't get it done.''
That is undoubtedly a tough pill to swallow this morning, but perhaps the Bishops, who started 3-3 but finished 8-4, would do well to wash that knowledge down with a glass of reality.
Not a lot of people gave Donahue a fighter's chance during the preseason and, truthfully, this is a junior-laden team that probably arrived a season earlier than most expected. The future looks extremely bright.
''Maybe so, but right now my heart's with my seniors. So it's hard for me to look too far forward,'' Durdines said. ''I'm losing a lot (Chris Vani, Lavonte Hampton, Jared Yates, Hunter Kaschke, Kris Wood, Tyler Meador, and Lane LeMasters) of great seniors and I feel for them.
''But we'll learn from this.''
Shawn Rine can be reached via email at email@example.com