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Focus Is the 2013 Mantra for Bishop Donahue

Bishops have standouts across board

August 28, 2013
dsp The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

McMECHEN - Not happy? Bishop Donahue is downright ticked off after letting what it feels as though was a third straight West Virginia Class A playoff berth slip through its fingers in 2012.

Out to right their own injustice, Coach John Durdines isn't sure that he's ever been around a more hungry, focused group as this season's Bishops.

''You can see it and I know the kids have been talking about it all winter long and through the spring,'' the coach said. "The state runner-up (Madonna), we lost by one point to them and were up 14-8 with two minutes left.

''We had the potential to do things last year, and I think they know they left a lot on the table.

''This year we really tried to focus early on getting back to that hunger stage where we take each and every game as the most important game.''

To that end, there's only one contest on the schedule, and that's today's 5 p.m. matchup against Cameron in the McDonald's OVAC Kickoff Classic. What looms later, and be sure it is a formidable road, will be handled on a week-to-week basis.

''This is your time to make your mark,'' Durdines has repeatedly told his players. ''They have to stay focused and realize you have to stay focused for 11 weeks.

''There are great equalizers, and whenever you win like we've been winning, there's targets on us.

''I know teams are looking at us like we used to look at those teams we wanted to be when we were down a little bit.''

The success of this team will fall on the broad shoulders of an offensive line that is big and powerful, especially by Class A standards. The lightest in the trenches will be 200 pounds, with four weighing in at 240 or better.

The two garnering the most attention are senior Chris Vani, a team captain, and junior Chase Padlow, who stood out this summer at various camps.

''Chase, size-wise, you say 6-foot-3 and 286 pounds and you're going to get people's attention,'' Durdines said. "I've told him I want him to appreciate all those things but he's got to understand that now that he's gotten the attention, that just mean's he's got to work harder.

''Like with Geno Smith last year in the draft, once you're at the top people try to pick away at you and find your weaknesses. They no longer are enamored by your strengths.''

Vani, meanwhile, has a bit of a mean streak in him, which is a postive for any lineman.

Vani ''plays an unbelievably crucial position for us as far as center and as probably our best defensive tackle as far as quickness off the ball,'' Durdines said. ''He is the leader on that offense because he's a senior and has been starting all three years and has also done an excpetional job.''

Add in Lane LeMasters and CJ Huff, and suddenly you've got enough beef to move mountains. Junior Billy Bauerle and sophomore Dylan Druschel will be working the other line position, rotating in.

''We feel really good with those six and then we have Austin Cunningham, one of the strongest pound-for-pound kids that I've had, played running back for me,'' Durdines said. ''He wants to play line and get in there more.

''He understands this is his best chance and he's been exceptional so far. I see the seven of them really working hard and allowing to keep us moving the ball.''

In order to do that, big(ger) things are being expected from junior quarterback Jesse Padlow, a finalist last season for The Intelligencer's Sophomore of the Year award. Padlow has put in time in the weight room and it shows not only in his arm strength, but also his confidence.

''We're really excited to see how he blossoms,'' Durdines said. ''I think it's more of a comfort stage of actually going through a season and knowing that he can do it.

''Knowing what he needs to do and understanding the offense, he knows a lot more is going to be on his shoulders.

''He's got to lead this offense through his play. He has to step up as a leader.''

Senior Hunter Kaschke is the backup and figures to be one of the go-to targets in a Donahue offense that will have a plethora of talented options.

Lavonte Hampton, the other senior captain, will be all over the field and is the leading returning receiver. He'll carry the ball some as well, but will be joined outside the tackles by sophomore Josh Miller and Kaschke.

''Between those three, they're athletic and they know how to run routes and know where they're supposed to be,'' the coach said. ''That seems simple enough, but just knowing how deep or wide to run a route is huge.

''There's a reason you have certain packages in order to separate the defense and give Jesse the windows he's going to need.''

Any number of players will see carries this season, led by the junior duo of Brett Moore and Andrew Cunningham, each of whom rushed for more than 300 yards a season ago.

''They offer a little bit different style,'' Durdines said. ''Brett's a little more of a scatback - a lot of quickness - while Andrew is built low to the ground and is strong as an ox.

''But any time you have a weapon like a LaVonte Hampton who you can put at quarterback, at wide receiver or at running back, you've got to find a way to get him the ball.''

Matt Vucilek and Alex Riedel, both juniors, will rotate at fullback because Durdines wants one of them on the field at all times.

''We don't really have a starting fullback (because) they are 1A and 1B,'' Durdines said.

Defensively there are going to be rotations aplenty, largely due to the fact the Bishops are blessed with so many quality options.

Along the line, it looks like many of the same people that are in the trenches on the other side of the football, will get reps. One difference was the late arrival to camp of 6-4, 250-pound junior Chaice Truex

''Chase and Vani and Lane will be rotating in at defensive tackle. At defensive end will be CJ Huff, Billy Bauerle and Dylan Druschel,'' Durdines said. ''We don't expect them to play 48 minutes both ways, especially early on when it's going to get hot.

''They've already talked about different competitions as far as yards given up when certain pairs are in. Having the attitude where you want to pair up with your partner to be the best, that can only be a good thing.''

The linebacking unit features Vucelik, the leading tackler on the team as a sophomore as a middle linebacker, which helps soften the blow of the loss of two-time all-stater Jordan Bonar, who moved onto West Liberty.

Reidel is back on the outside, while Moore and Austin Cunningham have played so hard and so well in preseason, that they've forced the coaches to put them on the field.

A versatile secondary returns intact and will feature Hampton, who can play linebacker, corner or safety. Miller is back at corner, and Kaschke moves there from safety. Oh, and don't forget Khris Wood who plays both linebacker and corner.

''We love the fact we're versatile. We have enough speed and strength to be able to rotate those players,'' Durdines said.

Kaschke will do the bulk of the punting and kicking, which as the backup quarterback gives opposing defenses one more thing to think about. Andrew Cunningham and Brett Moore will return kicks, as will Hampton, who since the Bishops use their base defense to return punts and he is the safety, will also fill that role.

The X-factor here could be Jared Yates, a speedster and an established basketball player who Durdines is very high on. He could play receiver and return kicks as well.

Meanwhile, the coaching staff likes what it saw early from sophomores Will Robinson and Cole Burlich.

The team will begin the season with a heavy heart after the passing earlier this month of running backs coach Larry Carpenter, who spent six seasons on Durdines' staff.

The returning staff includes Howard Stamp, who is in his 11th season working with the offensive line, as well as Johnny Bonar (fourth-year offensive coordinator), former Donahue standout Michael Angalich (second year with QBs), David Richmond (RBs), another former standout at the school, and newcomers Curt Mehle, who Durdines has been trying to get to come aboard for some time, and Kevin Board, who is a teacher at Bishop Donahue and a graduate of both Williamstown and West Liberty.

Seniors

Austin Cunningham, Lavonte Hampton, Hunter Kaschke, Lane LeMasters, Tyler Meador, Chris Vani, Kris Wood, Jared Yates.

Juniors

Bill Bauerle, Andrew Cunningham, CJ Huff, Dalton Lantz, Brett Moore, Chase Padlow, Jesse Padlow, Alex Riedel, Chaice Truex, Matt Vucelik, Adrian Whorton.

Sophomores

Cole Berletch, Dylan Druschel, Josh Miller, Will Robinson, Kyle Swan.

Freshmen

Alex Abel, Chris Barry, Jacob Beyser, J.C. Custer, Junior Holmes, Jimmy Hull, Luke LeMasters, Trey Miller, Trent Snyder.

 
 

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