Red Riders silencing doubters after first test

POWERING THROUGH — Weir High’s Donavan Kirby rushes past James Monroe’s Landon Hall on Friday. (Photo by Joe Catullo)

WEIRTON — The Weir High football team got over one hurdle in the 26-20 win over winless but playoff-tested James Monroe Friday night. After two lopsided wins to open the season, the Red Riders proved they could hold true against what still could turn out to be one of the better Class AA teams in the state.

The Red Rider defense came up with the game-winning stop at the goal line in the final ticks of the game, and the offense put two fourth-quarter touchdowns on the board in come-from-behind fashion.

“We made one more play than they did,” Weir High coach Tony Filberto said. “And that’s what football is about, who makes the play at the end sometimes.”

His defense made that play with the Mavericks knocking on the door at the Red Rider 7, out of timeouts and 2.7 seconds showing on the clock.

James Monroe junior quarterback, with the appropriate name of Monroe Mohler, rolled to his right, looking to pass into the end zone (he completed 6 of 13 asses for 97 yards) but couldn’t find anyone open. So, he tucked the ball and looked like he was going to crash into the end zone to at least tie the score, but Weir High’s Chris Helms, Garet Hostuttler and Reed Reitter had other plans. They teamed up to plow into him and stop him just inches from the goal line to seal the win.

“We almost pulled it off there at the end, but we had two many first half penalties and, in the fourth quarter, we kept getting people hurt,” James Monroe coach Chris Boothe said. “Man, my guys showed a lot of heart on that last drive, but we had kids that normally are a two-guy playing what we call a four or five position.

“But, they battled. We were on the bus for seven hours , well, on and off of it, but our kids came to play. We can build on that for the future.”

The Red Riders had 283 yards of total offense compared to 236 for the Mavericks, and leading the way was senior Donavan Kirby’s 175 yards with both of those final period touchdowns on runs of 29 and 6 yards.

“He is a terrific football player,” Filberto said. “We’re so happy he’s playing with us, and he had a terrific night. He did a great job for us.”

With Weir High’s passing game out of sync, the Red Riders turned to Kirby, and the senior answered the call, especially in the fourth quarter when the Red Riders needed it most. He finished the game running with reckless abandon to score twice going down the stretch, once to tie the game and the second time with 3.57 left for the win.

“I probably should have called more runs for Kirby in the first half,” Filberto said. “I think we could have controlled this game better in the first half. But that’s hindsight, which makes all real smart. Afterwards it is shoulda, woulda, coulda.”

In addition to making the game-winning stop at the end, the Red Rider defense put the brakes on two Maverick drives, twice with interception. Helms got a pick deep in Red Rider territory shortly before halftime and two by junior Sebastian Spencer in the second half.

The second pick by Spencer came in spectacular fashion midway through the fourth quarter, and Helms had a hand in it. The senior linebacker, who transferred to Weir High from Brooke, tipped a Mohler pass, and Spencer made a diving shoestring catch just before the ball was to hit the turf at the Weir High 44.

The Rider offense, though, wasn’t going well until Kirby’s heroics in the fourth quarter. The passing game, which found senior quarterback completing 12 of 16 a week earlier, was out of sync. Komorowski completed only 5 of 13 aerials for 66 yards with an interception.

“We just weren’t real efficient throwing the football,” Filberto said. “They gave us a lot of pressure, but passing is a lot more than the guy throwing or the one catching the football. There are a lot of reasons why those things happen. Things like the defensive rush, maybe it could be we didn’t run the right route or didn’t throw the right route. In the big picture, we weren’t very efficient throwing the football. We were much more efficient running.”

Weir High (3-0) got on the board first with a 1-yard smash over the middle by Komorowski, culminating the opening drive of the game less than five minutes in. Sophomore Gage Reitter, who was filling in at kicker for his older brother, Reed, early in the game, booted the point after for an early 7-0 Red Rider lead.

The lead didn’t last long as the Mavericks responded with a score on their first possession, with a 45-yard pass from Mohler to senior tight end Channing Carr. The Mavericks pulled one out of the hat on the conversion when Mohler handed off to Jacob Mann, and then Mann found Mohler open with a pass for two points that put James Monroe ahead until Kirby’s 29-yard scoring dash tied the game at 20-20 at the 9:11 mark of the fourth quarter.

It was back-to-back big plays in the second quarter that really electrified the large crowd. First, Mohler returned a 76-yard punt for a score and then an 85-yard touchdown return on the ensuing kickoff by Spencer ended up giving the Mavericks a 14-13 halftime lead.

The Mavericks extended the lead to 20-13 on the second play of the second half as Kohler bolted up the middle on his 61-yard scoring dash.

Weir High finishes the four-game home stand Friday when Keyser (1-1), a 20-14 loser to Robert C. Byrd Friday, invades Jimmy Carey.

Weir High 26, James Monroe 20

James Monroe 8 6 6 0 — 20

Weir High 7 6 0 13 — 26

W: Komorowski 1 (G. Reitter kick)

JM: Carr 45 pass from Mohler (Kohnler pass from Mann)

JM: Mohler 76 punt return (pass failed)

W: Spencer 86 kickoff return (kick failed)

JM: Mohler 61 run (pass failed)

W: Kirby 29 run (R. Reitter kick)

W: Kirby 6 run (kick failed)

RUSHING: James Monroe 35-139-1 (Mohler 23-113-1, Mann 4-2, Castillo 6-18, Moore 2-6); Weir High 33-217-3 (Kirby 19-175-2, Semedo 3-14, G. Hostuttler 1-(-9), Spencer 1-5, Komorowski 9-32-1).

PASSING: James Monroe 6-14-97-1-2 (Mohler 5-13-97-1-2, Brown 0-1); Weir High 5-13-66-0-1, (all by Komorowski).

RECEIVING: James Monroe (Carr 1-45-1, Fullen 1-14, Castillo 2-16, Jewell 1-1, Brown 1-29); Weir High (McCoy 3-38, Hostuttler 1-4, Kirby 1-34).

FIRST DOWNS: James Monroe 10; Weir High 7.

PENALTIES: James Monroe 7-38; Weir High 11-110.

FUMBLES-LOST: James Monroe 1-0; Weir High 2-1.

INTERCEPTIONS: James Monroe: Mohler; Weir High: Helms, Spencer.