Playoff Fever: Pass defense crucial for Williamstown

WILLIAMSTOWN – Williamstown football will take a refresher course in pass defense while preparing for Saturday’s Class A quarterfinal playoff game against Bishop Donahue.

Last week in their playoff opener against Man, the 12th-ranked Bishops improved to 8-3 and won their fifth straight game by defeating the Hillbillies, 21-16. In that game, Bishop Donahue quarterback Jesse Padlow threw for 353 yards and three touchdowns.

Game time is set for 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Williamstown High School. “Their quarterback will take off, scramble around and buy himself some time but it doesn’t look like they have too many designed plays where he just takes off,” Williamstown coach Terry Smith said.

Smith is confident his free safety Jake Tracewell, along with the cornerbacks, can put the clamps on the Bishops’ receivers. At the same time, a pass rush must exist so Padlow doesn’t have all kinds of time to pick out his target.

“I have faith in Jake, and the other guys are getting better and better,” Smith said. “But the best pass defense is a pass rush and we’ve been all right in that department. We will probably have to blitz here and there.”

Fourth-ranked Williamstown enters the contest with a 9-2 record after pulling off a 27-25 victory last week at home against Wheeling Central. The Maroons Knights were 5-1 in the postseason against the Yellowjackets until last Friday. In the overall series, Williamstown has won three of eight meetings.

“It was a typical Wheeling Central team,” Smith said. “They were tough and our guys played well. Plus, we had no turnovers.”

Enjoying a breakout performance for Williamstown was junior running back Dakota Watson, who caught six passes for 93 yards. Two receptions resulted in touchdowns. Watson also rushed five times for 51 yards.

“The last two to three weeks, teams have been focusing on our quarterback Jake Tracewell,” Smith said. “He needs somebody to take a little bit of the pressure off. It’s not that Dakota isn’t good – he maybe hadn’t had the opportunities until the last couple of weeks.”

Bishop Donahue can’t forget about the presence of running backs David Hastings and Trace Hart. Wide receiver Hunter Neely is always a factor as well.

“Obviously, we will need different weapons to get past a team like Bishop Donahue,” Smith said.

In scouting the Bishop Donahue at Man game on Saturday, Smith noticed the size of both teams. Both teams have an advantage over Williamstown. In addition to their succcess throwing the ball, the Bishops’ defense recorded eight sacks and picked off three passes.

“A couple of Bishop Donahue’s players were 6-5 and 6-6, and were kind of overwhelming,” Smith said. “They are bigger than anybody we’ve faced.”

Man didn’t show much blitz and Padlow made the opposition pay.

“(Padlow) was in the gun – he catches it and throws it,” Smith said.