MOUNDSVILLE - Wheeling Central bolstered its playoff positioning Friday night, building a 28-0 halftime lead and then holding off Bishop Donahue, 28-18, in another physical chapter between the two West Virginia Class A powers at Monarch Stadium.
There were plenty of questions surrounding the two-time defending state champion Maroon Knights when the season began. How would they cope with the loss of quarterback/defensive stalwart Parker Henry? How would they deal with the rugged schedule?
Central coach Mike Young points to his team's 7-3 regular-season record as the answer.
LeMasters (56) has a handful of jersey from Wheeling Central
quarterback C.J. Burch (14) on
Friday in Moundsville.
''A lot of people counted us out this year,'' he said. ''We're 7-3 and I'm very proud of that.
''We came upon a lot of adverse situations. We lost Parker Henry, kids were banged up all year and we played a tough schedule. Now we have to get ready to play in two weeks and we're glad for that.''
The Maroon Knights, winners of three straight, will likely begin their playoff march on the road.
Bishop Donahue, which turned the ball over eight times, including five times during the first half, saw its playoff hopes take a hit. The Bishops (6-3), 14th in the latest SSAC computer ratings, finish the regular season Friday at Tyler Consolidated.
''Central's a great team, and I think we gave them everything they wanted,'' Bishops coach John Durdines said. ''Hopefully, we'll see them again.
''You have eight turnovers and only lose by 10? That's pretty good.''
Only two of the miscues resulted in Central scores, but the others stalled Bishops drives in Wheeling Central territory and put Durdines' team behind the 8-ball in a big way early.
''If we wouldn't have given them great field position on a lot of those turnovers early, who knows?,'' he said.
The first three Bishop Donahue drives ended in turnovers, but the second one really stung.
Trailing 7-0, the Bishops used seven running plays, including one on fourth down, to get to the Maroon Knights 3. On second-and-goal, Jordan Bonar fumbled trying to get in the end zone.
''If we get that ball in from there, that's a huge score,'' Durdines said, ''because we can either tie the game or take the lead on a 2-point conversion.''
On Donahue's next possession, quarterback Jesse Padlow threw the second of what would be five picks on the evening.
Central quickly took advantage, scoring on the next play on a 34-yard strike from C.J. Burch to Michael Pleva. The second of four Bradley Cottrell PAT's made the score 14-0.
Padlow endured a rough night, but he completed 50 percent of his passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns.
''Things just started snowballing,'' Durdines said. ''Things got away from us. Jesse's a young quarterback and he's going to make mistakes. But he never stopped trying and never stopped trying to compete.
''He came up with some big throws. You have to live by the sword and die by the sword. He's our quarterback and he's going to be really good. He's growing and correcting things as he goes along.''
The Bishops won the yardage battle - 397-250. But the Maroon Knights didn't need as many yards to do their damage, scoring their four touchdowns on 13 plays.
Burch hit Pleva for a 34-yard touchdown on the second play from scrimmage. Then, later in the first half, Burch scored on runs of 1 and 4 yards.
Burch completed four passes for 136 yards - all to Pleva.
''I thought defensively we played outstanding,'' Durdines said.
The Bishops got on the board in the third when Padlow hit Bonar for a 37-yard touchdown. Then, in the fourth quarter, Padlow found Lavonte Hampton for a 20-yard touchdown.
Hampton had a big night, finishing with 117 yards rushing and 102 receiving. He helped shoulder the load missing from Saquan Hill, who sustained an ankle injury early and was limited to playing defense most of the night.