Warriors versus Bishops in state football playoffs
The Pocahontas County High School varsity football team qualified for the state playoffs and will play a first-round game against the Bishop Donahue Bishops on Saturday, November 13 at John Marshall High School in Glen Dale (north of Moundsville).
The Warriors finished with a 6-4 regular season record and the No. 14 ranking in state Class A football.
The Bishops completed a perfect 10-0 regular season, outscoring their opponents 526-53. Donahue, ranked No. 3 in the state, makes their first playoff appearance since 1999 and their first ever under head coach John Durdines. The Bishops are this year's Mason-Dixon Conference and Ohio Valley Athletic Conference (OVAC) Class-A champions.
In their history, the Bishops won the OVAC title in 1967 and were state runners-up in 1979.
Durdines brought the Bishops back from the brink of football extinction after becoming head coach in 2002. At the time, Donahue was considering ending its football program, due to a lack of interest. Durdines took over a 13-player team in 2002 and built it up to become one of the best Class A teams in the state. Durdines overall record as head coach at Bishop Donahue is 45-55.ﾠ
The team has compiled winning records every year since 2006, with the exception of 2004, when the Bishops finished 4-6. Last year, Donahue finished 7-3 but the Bishops narrowly missed the playoffs at No. 17 in the state.
Bishop Donahue returns 10 starters and 27 lettermen on their 33-man roster, including All-State WR Ryan Jones; All-State special mention T/DE Kaleb Kucera; All-State honorable mention FB/LB Austin Coffield and All-State honorable mention RB/LB Bobby Richmond. Second team All-Mason Dixon conference QB Jordan Angalich is a double-threat with both passing and running ability.
The Warriors defeated three teams with winning records this season and lost three close games against teams that are in the playoffs: East Hardy (13-20), Parkersburg Catholic (6-9) and Pendleton County (23-31). Only six playoff teams earned more bonus points than PCHS, indicating the Warrior's tough schedule.
PCHS hurt themselves with turnovers early in the season, but the offense has steadily improved, averaging 23 points per game. Injuries to All-State special mention RB/LB Jesse Hoke and All-State honorable mention LB/OL Seth Doss hobbled the Warriors in mid-season, but the PCHS defenseﾠ hardly missed a beat, allowing just 13 points a game.
Many coaches say "defense wins playoff games." If true, PCHS should not be underestimated. The Warrior defense is solid and will be instrumental in any upset in Moundsville this weekend.
Defensive linemen Brandon Gloshen and Evan Rose, DE Michael Hensler, and LBs Seth Doss, Zach Chestnut and Noah Pugh - all named to the All-Potomac Valley Conference (PVC) team -ﾠ have made life miserable for opposing QBs and RBs. All-PVC DB David Kiner has shut down the best WRs and freshman Devin Rose has made an incredible impact for a younger player.
PCHS coach Mike Knisely said he learned a lot about his offense when Hoke was sidelined for a month. Specifically, he learned what outstanding athletes he has in sophomore RB/DB Kyler Doss, RB/LB Noagh Pugh and RB/LB Hunter Grimes.
There are three first-team, All-PVC running backs this year. Hoke and Doss are two of them and Grimes made second-team RB. Pugh proved his value in short-yardage situations, picking up several first downs. The strong PCHS rushing offense gives the Warriors control of the ball and control of the clock - making it difficult for teams to overcome a deficit.
Knisely said a better understanding of his players' capabilities will help him develop an offensive plan against the Bishops.
Like Durdines, 10-year Warrior coach Knisely has elevated his team from mediocrity to statewide respectability. During the last five years, PCHS has compiled a 33-20 record and made three trips to the playoffs.
Two years ago, like this year's Bishops, the Warriors achieved an undefeated regular season, only to be upset at home, in the second round, by 2009 state champion Madonna.
Knisely hopes to accomplish what Madonna did in 2009 and take his underdog Warriors on the road, against an undefeated opponent, and win.
The Warriors enjoyed a bye week in week 11, the final week of the regular season, giving them time to heal up and prepare for the first round of the playoffs. During the final week, the Bishops dealt unmercifully with Paden City, rolling up a 61-0 shutout against the Wildcats.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on November 13 at John Marshall High School in Glen Dale, north of Moundsville. Gametime forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with highs in the 60s.