Weir High hits the road for first time this season

LEADING — Weir High’s Sebastian Spencer rushes against Keyser on Friday. Spencer and the Red Riders travel for the first time this season against Petersburg on Saturday. (Photo by Michael D. McElwain)

WEIRTON — Veteran Weir High head coach Tony Filberto said his Red Riders are preparing this week to play a very formidable opponent.

There’s a good reason for that, because the Red Riders will be on the road for about four hours to play unbeaten and fourth-ranked Petersburg beginning at 4 p.m. Saturday.

The Vikings are 3-0 after having one game canceled because of a lack of officials, according to Filberto, and they are currently ranked fourth in the state’s Class AA rankings.

“They are much improved over the past few years,” said Filberto, whose club is 3-1 after Keyser made a huge second-half comeback to erase a 26-point Weir High lead and win in dramatic fashion, 41-40, on Friday. The Riders dropped in the state rankings from sixth to 12th.

“Last week, we let a game get away from us that shouldn’t have gotten away from us. There were some things that happened in that game that we just didn’t overcome. They gave us some things, and we didn’t respond to them.

“The Keyser offense was something we had seen in the past and something we knew how to attack, They found something they could do, and we didn’t make real good adjustments. And, you know, we take full responsibility for that game. It wasn’t a design we hadn’t seen before — we just didn’t react to it very well.

“We just didn’t get the football enough in that second half, which really, really hurt us. A turnover, a couple of onside kicks and long drives, we just didn’t get the football back enough to score very many points in the second half.”

Filberto added that the Red Riders will deal with the upset loss and have to put it behind and move on.

He said his charges will have their hands full this week with senior Petersburg quarterback Jacob Hartman.

“He is one of the top players in the state,” Filberto said. “He’s a big kid who has been there for three years now. He’s a special kid, so we better be ready to play football. He’ll throw the ball, and they have two or three kids that can catch it.

“The Petersburg basketball program was very, very good last year, and those receivers are basketball players. They are similar to us in that regard.”

All three of the Red Rider starting receivers (Sebastian Spencer, Reed Reitter and Jake McCoy) started on the Weir High basketball team last winter.

“They are a spread football team and they’re going to throw it, and Hartman will run it when not passing. That’s what they do,” Filberto said.

The Vikings currently average slightly more than 40 points per contest, while the Red Riders average 46.5. The Vikings defeated winless Berkeley Springs, 43-6, Pendleton County (3-1), 43-35, and had a come-from-behind 35-28 victory over winless Hampshire last week.

“Hampshire hasn’t won a game, but they were ahead of Petersburg most of that game and lost it late,” Filberto said. “This game of football is a funny thing. When it’s your night, it’s your night. We proved that Friday. We came out and looked so good at one point, then gave it up in the second half.”

Filberto said the Vikings have some big linemen, and they are senior-dominated.

“They use that three-stack defense, which isn’t new to us,” he said. “That’s good because our defense won’t have to do a lot of preparation, just review what we already know. That defense is similar to what we saw against Oak Glen, Anacostia and James Monroe, almost identical to Oak Glen. When they want to blitz, they’ll put more guys up on the line, but that defense is basically a 3-3 stack.”

Filberto said, because of the extra day between games, the team took a day away from on-field practice Monday. He said they got together, reviewed films of Keyser and Petersburg Monday and practiced as normal the rest of the week.

Several Red Riders were nursing injuries, with senior quarterback Tyler Komorowski and running back Chad Custer not dressed against Keyser. Several others were banged up during the game, including senior running back Donavan Kirby, who is the leading scorer in The Weirton Times/Herald-Star coverage area with 66 points. He averages 7.5 yards per rush and now has 385 yards on the ground. McCoy is the leading pass receiver, with 11 catches for 141 yards and a touchdown.

Spencer, who is the second-leading receiver with eight catches, started in place of Komorowski at quarterback and completed 14 of 23 passes for 164 yards.

Spencer had to switch to quarterback in the 2017 game at Keyser when Komorowski received a knee injury. He started the next four games for the Red Riders until Komorowski returned.

Early in the week Filberto had no update on the injured players and said whoever shows up, they’ll go with.