Red Riders finally return home, battle Frankfort

COMING HOME — Anthony DiMatteis and the Weir High football team opens the home portion of their schedule against Frankfort on Friday. -Joe Catullo

WEIRTON — Last week, after his Weir High football team was lackluster in a 34-14 loss in the season-opening game at Oak Glen, coach Tony Filberto was prophetic when he said that performance was not indicative of his football team.

The Red Riders bounced back in great fashion with a 28-7 win over Class AAA John Marshall.

In analysis, Filberto said the coaches and players met after the loss to county-rival Oak Glen and determined it wasn’t about any individual, but it was about the Weir High School football team.

“We weren’t very good,” he said. “We weren’t playing our game, and we made a lot of mistakes. Last week we talked about going out and play, correct the mistakes and don’t worry about anything but Weir High School.”

The big difference in the win was the emergence of senior star Sebastian Spencer. In the win last week, the four-year starter had a hand in all four Red Rider scores. He rushed for 103 yards and three touchdowns, while completing three of six passes for 64 yards and another score.

“He missed the big part of the preseason practices and both scrimmages after having surgery but was cleared to play,” Filberto said. “But, we were afraid to use him the way we want to in our offense against Oak Glen. After he fumbled on the opening kickoff, I thought he wasn’t ready. Last week, he sat down with me and he said, ‘Look coach, you can count on me. I’m ready to go.’ And, he did pretty good the other night.”

In addition to the official numbers he put up, Spencer had a 65-yard run and a 35-yard touchdown run called back by penalties.

The Red Riders probably will need that kind of performance again Friday, as they play the home- opener against Frankfort inside Jimmy Carey Stadium. The opening kick is set for 7 p.m.

“It will be great to get home,” Filberto said. “I can’t remember when we opened the season with two away games. And, it looks like it will be a good football game.”

The Falcons invade the stadium boasting a 2-0 record with a 35-3 win over Moorefield and a 41-0 victory over East Hardy, both Class A schools.

“If we have an advantage, it may be that we likely faced better competition in our first two games, but those are two pretty good Class A teams that have a history of making the playoffs,” said Filberto, who annually tries to get as tough a schedule as he can because of his belief that his teams don’t get better unless they play against better teams.

Filberto added that the Falcons, like John Marshall, are a run-oriented team.

“They run in a different manner,” he said. “John Marshall was big and ran with power. Frankfort is big, too, but they run out of the Wing-T formation with two tight ends, a big running back, a good size quarterback that can run and throw and a lot of motion before the snap.”

Normally, teams that use the Wing-T look to throw the football, but Filberto says Frankfort has shown in the first two games that it wants to run first.

“Of course, they could come in here with a completely different pass-oriented offense, but the films show them as wanting to run,” he said.

Filberto said senior Jansen Knotts (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) is the quarterback. He was the starter at tight end last year. The running backs are good sized, too, with junior Jansen Moreland (6-2, 200) and senior Nick Marley (5-11, 215).

“They have some size up front,” Filberto said of the Falcons, who were a class AA playoff team last year with a record of 8-2. “Tackle David Blanco (6-4, 290) is massive, and Hayden Stein (6-1, 285) is a player. They are pretty big every place and a physical football team.

“Defensively, Frankfort is pretty much a clone to the John Marshall defense. They play the 4-3 and haven’t shown an inclination to do much blitzing. They’ll play two safeties and keep the ball in front of them. They are very methodical defensively. Now offensively, they can us a lot of that misdirection stuff out of the Wing-T.

“Again, they could come out in and play completely different this week. A lot of teams are trying to use some odd- ball defenses against us because of Sebastian.”

Filberto is using Spencer in a lot of different ways, including quarterback, running back and kick returner.

“He had a lot of snaps at quarterback last week, but that doesn’t mean he is the quarterback,” Filberto said. “When you have the kind of speed he has, you have to get the ball into his hands and use the option. It is easiest when he’s at quarterback, but Anthony DiMatteis also is our quarterback.

“Obviously, Sebastian is our key to running the option because he can turn 6 yards into 60 yards, but both can throw the ball and it depends upon what is working best as to what we do. Neither leaves the field. They are interchangeable for us at the inside wide receiver position, and that gives us a lot more deception and option with what we do.”

Filberto said starting running back Drew Curtis, a senior letterman and leading tackler from the linebacker position on defense, got hurt in the game against John Marshall. Logan Walters, who has been the starter at defensive end, will move to linebacker and also will take over as the starting running back. Walters gained 43 yards against John Marshall and had a 35-yard run against Oak Glen.