Weir putting everything on the line

SPREADING THE FIELD — Weir’s Chad Custer rushes against Fairmont Senior on Friday (Photo by Michael D. McElwain).

VINCENT — Reeling from a stinging 49-7 loss to Fairmont Senior last week, the Weir High football team (4-3) travels to Warren Local Friday night to begin putting the pieces back together and start the drive to secure a spot in the 16-team state playoff field. The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

And what better opponent to begin that three-game march than the Warriors (0-7), who have won only three games since joining the OVAC in 2014.

With the loss last week, the Red Riders dropped out of the top 16 falling from 14th to 19th.

While veteran Red Rider coach Tony Filberto is confident his team will bounce back, he is being cautious because the Warriors are a team itching for that first win of 2017. The Warriors won only two games last year after a winless season in 2015 and could manage only one victory in 2014.

“Warren Local isn’t the caliber of competition we’ve played, especially Fairmont Senior, but they play hard and play to win,” Filberto said. “I would categorize them as a power football team that wants to come straight at us. In the films I have seen, they spread out and go to the air.

“It seems to depend upon who they have at quarterback. We have seen two different quarterbacks. One is a better passer than the other, who is perhaps a better runner.”

The Warriors pack a one-two punch with the passing of Ronnie Hill (6-3, 195 pounds), a senior that returns from last year, and classmate Cole Riffle (6-0, 205) at running back. Filberto noted that both of them are also keys to the Warrior defense.

“They have some pretty good athletes up the middle on defense,” Filberto said. “Hill is the safety, and Riffle also returns from last year at middle linebacker, and they have a big nose tackle that gives us some concern. Teams that are good are the ones that have the athletes up the middle. That’s where these guys line up, and they appear to be the best athletes Warren has.”

Riffle rushed for 1,182 yards last year on 169 carries and nine touchdowns. He also had more than 100 receiving yards and was selected special mention All-Ohio on defense with 135 tackles.

Filberto said another concern is that Warren Local uses the old-school wishbone offense that his Red Riders will be seeing for the first time.

“They use the wishbone and also spread out, so we have to prepare for both,” he said. “We don’t know what we’ll get, probably both. Defending the wishbone is assignment football. It all comes off of a basis give or fake to the up guy. I’m confident we will be able to handle it.”

Filberto added that the trip to Vincent will take about two and a half hours. He said it is located about 20 miles west of Marietta.

The Red Riders disposed of Warren Local last year at Jimmy Carey Stadium with a score of 47-0 as Cody Enrietti had one of his best games, rushing 22 times for 223 yards and four touchdowns. Quarterback Donovan Spencer rushed the ball 10 times for 69 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown run.

A number of the current Red Riders played roles in the win over Warren Local a year ago.

The current Red Rider quarterback, sophomore Sebastian Spencer, played in that game last year, throwing one incomplete pass and running the football twice for a yard. Tyler Mack, who is in his second year as a starting linebacker for the Red Riders, intercepted a pass and ran it back 35 yards for a touchdown.

Also, Weir High’s injured starting quarterback Tyler Komorowski carried the rock three times for 23 yards. This year’s starting running back, junior Chad Custer, carried the ball five times for 46 yards a year ago. Weir sophomore Drew Curtis, a starting defensive back this year, also got into the game as a freshman and rushed for nine yards on four carries.

The two teams have met two common opponents thus far in Oak Glen and John Marshall. The Warriors lost to John Marshall (5-2) 48-6 last week, while the Red Riders defeated the Monarchs 29-26 in its third game. Weir opened the season with a 52-0 win over Oak Glen. The Golden Bears (2-4) beat Warren Local 17-14 on a game-winning field goal.

Filberto said the keys to victory this week are finishing blocks and tackling better.

“If we do that, I think we will be on the positive swing,” he said. “I am confident my kids will bounce back.”