FAIRMONT - As the Madonna Blue Dons leap-frogged into the top 10 of the West Virginia Class A football teams with the 15-14 come from behind win over Bishop Donahue last week, they burst into the meat of their schedule impressively.
The win vaulted the Blue Dons (5-1) to No. 8 in the standings, but coach Doug Taylor finds his team facing another West Virginia parochial school on the road this week.
The game will be played on the turf at Fairmont University, where Notre Dame (3-3) plays all of its home games, with a 7:30 p.m. start time.
"Yes, you could say we're into the meat of our schedule, but at the same time we can't afford to look ahead," Taylor said. "We're, like the old cliche, taking them one game at a time. We keep saying our goal is to get to the playoffs and be one of the home teams, but to do that we have to keep winning each week."
The trip to Fairmont is the middle game of a three-game road trip for the Blue Dons, who travel across the river to play Steubenville Catholic Central next week.
"We're glad to come out of Moundsville with a win last week," said Taylor. "It was a hostile environment, they had homecoming and then we gave up a big play early that put us in a hole. But we were patient, stayed with our game plan and began to move the ball in the second half. We got into Donahue territory a couple of times and couldn't score, but I just had the feeling that eventually we were going to put the ball in the end zone and we did."
It was Madonna's fourth win in a row, which is in stark contrast to the three consecutive losses by Notre Dame after winning its first three games of the season.
Notre Dame has an All-State quarterback in senior Tony Sestido, according to Taylor. He said Sestido passed for more than 1,200 yards last year.
Taylor said the Irish will run the ball with two sophomore running backs, Santino Cava and Spencer Harlowe.
"Notre Dame has talent and size," he added. "They try to beat you up front. They are a spread offense that has about a 50-50 mix between run and pass, but they run to set up their passing game."
Taylor said the keys to success this week for the Blue Dons are to continue to get better at what they do, to tackle better than they did last week and protect the football.
"Defensively, we have to stay away from the big play," he said. "Big plays by Donahue hurt us last week and we can't let that happen again.
"Notre Dame has become a rivalry game for us because they are a Catholic school and they are a member of the Mason Dixon conference with us. They take that conference serious down there and I know they want to beat us in the worst way."