Red Riders must fix their mistakes as fast as possible

HOMECOMING — Weir’s Sebastian Spencer rushes against Fairmont Senior on Friday. (Photo by Michael D. McElwain)

WEIRTON — When one gets dominated like Weir High did Friday in the 49-20 loss to No. 4 Fairmont Senior, there isn’t much left but to pick up the pieces and begin looking ahead to next week.

That’s exactly what veteran Red Rider coach Tony Filberto, whose club graduated 11 starters, did after the homecoming game Friday. With his Red Riders now at 4-3, he thinks there still is a chance the club can get to the playoffs for the third straight year with a 7-3 record.

“Everybody looks way down the road,” he said. “We have three football games coming up, three very winable football games in front of us. There are no guarantees, but if we play hard and practice hard and do things right, and win those three football games, we’re 7-3 and right back where we want to be.

“If I told you at the beginning of the season we’d be 7-3, you would have said great.”

The three teams remaining on the schedule, Warren Local, East Liverpool and Brooke, now have combined records of 3-17.

The Red Riders travel to Warren Local next Friday to face a team that is 0-7. The following week East Liverpool comes to town with a current record of 2-5 and the Red Riders host arch rival Brooke on October 27. With the loss to Parkersburg South Friday, the Bruins are 1-5.

“We’re okay,” Filberto continued. “I like these kids. I know they’ll come out and work hard on Monday.”

The Polar Bears (6-1) didn’t waste any time in showing their dominance Friday. They got the opening kickoff and quickly marched down the field in six plays. Senior Bryson Gilbert went in for the touchdown from 7 yards out with the game just three minutes old.

The Fairmont Senior defense was equally efficient slamming the door on the Red Rider offense with a three-and-out. Weir junior Reed Reitter got off a mamouth 51-yard punt to the Polar Bear 16, but all that did was set up another offensive opportunity, and the Polar Bears made good use of it with a quick 3-play drive culminated by another Gilbert scoring burst. This one was 59 yards as he got into the Weir secondary through right guard, quickly veered to the left and turned on the jets.

Sophomore soccer style place kicker Frankie Smith was deadly with his boots going 7-for-7.

Following a shanked Reitter punt that only traveled 13 yards, Junior Fairmont Senior quarterback Connor Neal fumbled on his team’s next possession with freshman Jordan Boreck pouncing on the football at the Weir 37. But it was more of the same even though the Riders did get their first first down and got inside Fairmont territory for the first time.

Another Reitter punt pinned the Polar Bears back to their own 8, but again it took only three plays for them to cross the goal line. This time it was a 76-yard scoring strike from Neal to junior Caleb Walker.

Neal finished with 10-of-14 passing for 221 yards and two touchdowns.

The touchdown parade continued two more times before the Red Riders finally answered. The Polar Bears scored on a 8-yard Neal sweep and a 1-yard plunge by Gilbert, who led all rushers with 123 yards on just seven carries. The husky senior, who was a thorn in the side of the Red Riders last year when Fairmont Senior beat them twice, had four rushing touchdowns.

The Red Riders got on the board with 4:47 left in the first half when sophomore quarterback Sebastian Spencer tossed a nice spiral down the right sideline and caught Reitter in stride for a 70-yard pass and run score. Reitter shook off a Polar Bear defender at the 20-yard line on his way to the end zone.

“We didn’t play very well in the first half and got ourselves in a big hole that was too big to get out of,” Filberto said. “Spencer did a great job for us. He came out in the second half and zinged it all over the place.”

Spencer, who was starting only his third varsity game, finished 8-of-19 for 155 yards and a touchdown.

“We threw the ball over over the place in the second half,” Filberto said. “Maybe we should have done that in the first half. Maybe we should have made them defend that perimeter a little more in the first half because we couldn’t get in a pushing match with them. Tonight, they were better than us up front.”

The Red Riders went into the locker room at the half trailing 42-7 and couldn’t get the ground game going until the Polar Bears began making substitutions.

Weir High junior Chad Custer rushed for 33 yards in the first half and finished the game with 94 on 22 carries. He scored a touchdown with a 2-yard blast with 4:53 left in the third quarter.

That score came after Fairmont Senior recovered a fumble just 18 seconds into the second half on Weir High’s second play following the third quarter kickoff. Gilbert took a pitch and appeared to be looking downfield on a pass, but decided to run instead and went into the end zone from 15 yards away.

The Red Riders got the only touchdown of the fourth quarter when senior Tyler Mack plunged into the end zone from 1 yard away.

Fairmont Senior 49, Weir High 20

Fairmont Senior 21-21-7-0 — 49

Weir 0-7-6-7 — 20

FS: Gilbert 7 run (Smith kick)

FS: Gilbert 41 run (Smith kick)

FS: Walker 24 pass from Neal (Smith kick)

FS: Neal 8 run (Smith kick)

FS: Gilbert 1 run (Smith kick)

W: Reitter 30 pass from Spencer (Reitter kick)

FS: Gilbert 34 run (Smith kick)

FS: Gilbert15 run (Smith kick)

W: Custer 2 run (kick failed)

W: Mack 1 run (Reitter kick)

RUSHING: Fairmont Senior 32-229 -5 (Gilbert 7-123-4; Neal 8-45-1; Clifton 5-9; Walker 3-24; Smith 1-5; Toothman 3-(-2); Michael 5-25); Weir 32-106-2 (Custer 22-94-1; Mack 5-13-1; Hostuttler 1-(-6); Spencer 4-5).

PASSING: Fairmont Senior: 12-12-20-243-2-1 (Neal 10-15 221-2TD; Gilbert 0-1; Michael 2-4-22); Weir 9-18-155-1-0 (all by Spencer).

RECEIVING: Fairmont Senior (Walker 3-90-1; Gilbert 2-43; Parsons 2-34; Pittman 2-31; J. D. Smith 2-36; Heston 1-9); Weir (Reitter 5-116-1; McCoy 2-22; Custer 1-5).

FIRST DOWNS: Fairmont Senior 14; Weir High 15.

PENALTIES: Fairmont Senior 4-46; Weir High 5-35.

FUMBLES-LOST: Fairmont Senior 2-1; Weir High 2-1.

PUNTS-AVG.: Fairmont Senior 1-25; Weir High 5-34.2.