Madonna working to avoid upset against Vincentian Academy

BREAKING THROUGH — Madonna junior Jacob Bonner and the Blue Dons host Vincentian Academy on Saturday. It will mark the Royals’ first game this season and first since 2016, following a suspended 2017 campaign. (Photo by Joe Catullo)

WEIRTON — How does a team prepare for a football opponent that suspended its season a year ago and hasn’t played a game yet this year?

Madonna coach Darrin Hicks said the plan is to work hard in practice on the things that will make the Blue Dons better and make adjustments on the fly when they engage Vincentian Academy, a WPIAL Class A team located on McKnight Road in the Wexford area north of Pittsburgh. The teams play for the first time Saturday at Jimmy Carey Stadium. The opening kick is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“I don’t know much about Vincentian,” Hicks said “I know they have been playing football for about five years but had to suspend their season last year, and they haven’t played yet this year and don’t have a scrimmage under their belts.”

The Vincentian Academy website shows photos of the Royals winning the Pennsylvania Class A state baseball championship, and their boys and girls basketball teams of a year ago won WPIAL championships.

“I know they have a very good athletic program overall, but I don’t think they had enough boys last year to field a football team,” Hicks said. “They sent us a 16-man roster for Saturday, and Mike Arlia, our athletic director, has been in touch with them and has assurances the Royals will be ready to play football Saturday.”

Still, Hicks said he is not taking the Royals lightly and will have his team ready for whatever formations it may face.

“It’s an interesting prep for us,” he said. “At the end of the day, we have to make sure we take care of our own house. We want to work on the things that will make us better. That’s what we spend a lot of our time on anyway. We have to make sure we prepare diligently during the week to be prepared for different things.

“We don’t know schematically what Vincentian does offensively, defensively or kicking, so we need to prepare for a variety of things. It allows us an opportunity to get better at a lot of different things. While it is not ideal, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing either.”

The Blue Dons got jolted last week, taking a 55-0 licking at the hands of defending state champion Wheeling Central to even the season record at 1-1.

“We came out of that game fairly healthy,” Hicks said. “We had a couple of nicks and scrapes here and there but, overall, we came out pretty well. We gave the boys the weekend off to kind of relax a little bit, and we came back Monday morning with a tremendously spirited practice. It was a very physical practice, and I thought we were very sharp mentally.

“I was excited with how we turned the page and were able to push forward into this week. The season is like having 10 pennies, and the two pennies that we have used so far are equally weighted for us. One penny or the other is not necessarily better or worse. As always, it is one game at a time and wanting to be 1-0. Obviously, the outcome wasn’t what we wanted, but it is one singular game, so now our focus is on Vincentian Academy.”