Weir High embracing tough battle with James Monroe

TALKING IT OVER — Weir High quarterback Tyler Komoroski will look to lead his team to a third-straight victory against James Monroe on Friday. (Photo by Michael D. McElwain)

WEIRTON — With two lopsided victories to open the 2018 season, the Weir High Red Riders now turn their attention to the first of several games against teams that were rated high by preseason prognosticators along with being perennial playoff participants.

First up is James Monroe, new to the schedule this year, who will invade Jimmy Carey Stadium for a Friday game that begins at 7 p.m.

The Mavericks were tripped by Class AAA Greenbrier East, 14-0, in the season opener two weeks ago and had their mandatory open date last week, but Red Rider coach Tony Filberto cautions that this team can be dangerous.

“James Monroe was ranked among the top eight in the state, as we were, before the season,” said Filberto, who hopes his team can get off to a better start in this one than it did in what turned out to be lopsided wins over Oak Glen and Anacostia of Washington, D.C. “They have a good football program and kids with playoff experience.”

The returnee who concerns Filberto most is a junior with a name that fits the program, Monroe Mohler, who made the all-state team last year as a sophomore defensive back. What concerns Filberto most this year is Mohler’s offensive abilities.

“They move him around to almost every offensive skill position, so we have to be aware of where he is at all times,” Filberto said. “But, they have a pretty good football team with a winning tradition.”

Filberto will go into the game without one of his senior running backs, as was the case last week against Anacostia. Chad Custer, who saw a lot of action at running back a year ago and started against Oak Glen, broke his left hand during the game with the Golden Bears and will sit out again this week. However, Filberto hopes new X-rays this week will show enough healing that Custer can be fitted with a soft cast and be available at Keyser on Sept. 14.

Filberto said James Monroe had to replace four of the starting five offensive linemen who started on its 8-3 playoff team a year ago. The Mavericks play a difficult schedule, losing last year only to Point Pleasant and eventual state champion Bluefield during the regular season. The Mavericks then lost a close game to Winfield in the playoffs.

Filberto points out that the Mavericks have “decent” speed.

“This Mohler kid is a very good athlete,” he said. “They line him up in a lot of different places, so our defense will have to know where he is at all times. Sometimes they will put him on the wing, at wide receiver or at wildcat quarterback and even running back. I keep cautioning our defense that they have to identify where he is. He’s a real key to the James Monroe offense.”

The Mavericks line up in the 3-3 stack defense, which the Red Riders faced in the Oak Glen game.

“They are similar to us on defense,” Filberto said. “They are an aggressive, high-risk defense with a lot of man-to-man coverage. That defense gave us a lot of problems against Oak Glen. The score (49-14) didn’t show that, but it did. The fact that we’ve seen that defense will absolutely benefit us. We can go back to our original game plan for the Oak Glen game, which will save us a lot of man hours of preparation.

“We’ll attack James Monroe the same way, but we should be a little better at what we do and how we do it. So, it will help us quite a bit seeing a similar defense.”

Filberto said Ste’von Semedo, his quick junior running back, will again fill in for Custer as he did against Anacostia. The scatback scored two touchdowns against the Indians, both on 22-yard runs that were similar as he kept darting around until he found the opening to the end zone.

“Semedo filled in very well last week, getting most of the carries that Custer would have received,” Filberto said. “He’s a pretty good running back, too. We’ve got a good group of running backs.

Senior Donavan Kirby led the ground game last week, with 65 yards on eight carries and a touchdown. Kirby now has gained 124 yards on 17 carries and four touchdowns.

Filberto said that besides Custer, senior wide receiver, safety and kicker Reed Reitter received a hit on his knee against Anacostia and sat out Monday’s practice, but he should be ready to go Friday night. He said that with this being three weeks into the season, there are several Red Riders who are dealing with bumps and bruises they received in the first two games.