By Dave Morrison
Paden City (3-4) at Bishop Donahue (3-3)
For Paden City, the future is bright, but coach Brent Croasman is still concerned about the here and now.
Sitting at 3-4, the playoffs are a long shot.
“We have three games (left) to win, so we are looking at this as our playoffs, because, realistically there might not be any for us,” coach Brent Croasman said.
Donahue’s playoff hopes are brighter, the Bishops’ three losses coming to No. 2 Madonna, No. 9 Clay Battelle and No. 11 Notre Dame.
“(The team) understands who we have lost to but they also realize you have to win a couple of these games,” coach John Durdines said. “We can’t get them back but we can move forward and take care of what we have left and see what happens. We are capable of running the table but they can’t think about that because we have an important game on Friday.”
Paden City has rebounded from an 0-3, which also included a loss to Clay-Battelle, behind the play of quarterback Zach Heasley.
The junior – the Wildcats don’t have a senior on the roster – has thrown for over 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns.
“He’s getting time to throw the ball, the line has gotten better,” Croasman said. “He';s getting time to throw, and he’s been able to go through his progressions and he is not always looking at the primary receiver. He is starting to understand and a lot of that stems from the fact that he is getting time.”
Bishop also got back its quarterback from an earlier injury and Jesse Padlow had thrown for almosy 900 yards and eight scores.
“He’s getting healthy,” Durdines said of Padlow. “He threw for 162 yards against a pretty good team last week (Madonna) and he did it under a lot of pressure. He had about six drops or it could have been more. I can’t say enough about him.”
Lavonte Hampton also returned for Bishop last week after missing three games.
Magnolia (4-3) at St. Mary’s (6-0)
It’s not basketball season yet, but Magnolia has done a great job of rebounding.
After a 2-3 start, the Blue Eagles have won to straight and are back in the playoff picture, sitting at 4-3 and No. 17 in the SSAC ratings.
It won’t be easy to push into the top 16.
Magnolia travels to No. 1 St. Mary’s, which has shut down about everyone it has played, and owns a 32-13 win over then No. 1 Williamstown.
Magnolia fell at Williamstown 15-14 on a late score week two.
The good news is Magnolia, too, has been stingy on defense, giving up just 14 points in the last two weeks. Its only game surrendering over 15 was a 27-20 loss at Wheeling Central, and six of those 27 came on a blocked game-winning field goal attempt by the Blue Eagles.
All-state running back Drew Keller has returned to form, with close to 300 yards rushing and three touchdowns in the last two weeks and Jacob Brill and Eric Smith have formed one of the OVAC’s top quarterback-receiver tandems.
Elkins (0-6) at Wheeling Park (5-1)
Perhaps homecoming is coming at the right time for Park – for more than just the festivities.
Coming off a tough 41-38 overtime loss at Morgantown last week, the Patriots must overcome the lingering effects of losing a 16-point fourth quarter lead and guard against looking ahead to a battle with Steubenville, a program it has never beaten.
And Park will likely have to do so without the services of all-state performer Bryce Ingram. The senior suffered an ankle injury and could miss the rest of the season.
Elkins has seen little go right this season, though it did battle Philip Barbour before falling 29-28 last week, coming off its bye week.
For Park, sophomore Savion Johnson, who started the first three games in place of Ingram, who was out with a back injury, will now carry more of the load.
Senior quarterback Zach Phillips also has come to the fore. He completed 16 of 30 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to Morgantown.
Chalmer Moffett caught seven passes for 120 yards and Eric Banks caught four for 46.
John Marshall (3-3) at University (5-1)
University coach John Kelley wasted little time getting right to the point when breaking down John Marshall.
The Hawks meet the Monarchs Friday in Morgantown.
“I’m very concerned about that running back,” the long-time University coach said. “He’s capable of taking over a game. He moves the chains, helps them control the football. I love what they are doing on offense, and with him. It’s a simple offense, but it is a smart offense. I had heard he was good, but until I watched him I had no idea he was that good. I love what this kid is doing.’
The ‘he’ Kelley was referring to is John Marshall running back Trevor Hardesty. However, Kelley might not see the senior.
Hardesty, who suffered an ankle injury against Musselman two weeks ago, tried to play last week against Parkersburg South but was shut down in the second half.
“He just couldn’t go, he couldn’t get any push,” John Marshall coach Rick Goodrich said.
His status this week is wait and see.
“It will be a game-time decision,” Goodrich said. “Obviously, he is a great player but more important, he is a leader in the huddle. The kids have confidence when he is in the huddle.”
His stats show his importance. Despite missing nearly two-and-a-half games, Hardesty has rushed for 586 yards on 103 carries with eight touchdowns.
In his absence last week against Parkersburg South, a 42-32 loss, sophomore Chase Gump stepped up with 126 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries.
He was one of four non-starters that finished the game against the Patriots.
That is John Marshall (3-3) in a nutshell – very young without Hardesty, the senior leader.
A demanding stretch run merely starts with University (followed by Morgantown and Wheeling Park, all Top 10 Class AAA teams).
No. 4 University (6-1) packs a punch and then some, with a senior-dominated squad. Its only loss was to No. 7 Wheeling Park, 17-7 at Wheeling Island Stadium.
“We’re right on schedule,” Kelley said. “We expected to be good. We had the one loss to a very good Park team, but our goal is to be 8-1 heading into the Mohawk Bowl (against city rival Morgantown).”
Injuries have hit the Hawks too. Kelley said the team lost three starting linemen in its most recent outing, a 49-20 win over Logan.
John Marshall has been buoyed by the steady play of sophomore quarterback Noah Martin, who has completed 45 of 67 passes for 594 yards with five touchdowns and five interceptions..
“I was pretty impressed by him,” Kelley said. “He doesn’t do anything beyond his capabilities, he realizes his limitations.”
Goodrich said there is room for improvement.
“He has been steady, but we think he can be really good when he commits himself fully to being a quarterback. The sky is really the limit. But yes, he has done a great job.”