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Weir High hits the long road to face Keyser

BACK ON THE ROAD — Elijah Gillette and the Weir High football team hit the road for the third time in four games this season Friday at Keyser. -Joe Catullo

KEYSER — The Weir High football team survived a stiff test last week against Frankfort, but it faces an even stiffer one this week against undefeated Keyser.

The Red Riders (2-1) and the Golden Tornado (3-0) are set to meet at 7 p.m. Friday at Alumni Stadium.

Weir enters the game coming off of a hard-fought 28-27 overtime victory against previously undefeated Frankfort. The Falcons led the Red Riders, 14-0, before the Red Riders stormed back in the second half en route to winning the game in overtime.

“We did not play very well in the first half,” Weir head coach Tony Filberto said. “Frankfort dominated the first half. It was 14-0. They squandered some opportunities. That was fortunate for us or else we would have been down by even more points.

“In the second half, I could not be more pleased. We came out and we responded. We displayed physical toughness, and we displayed mental toughness. I was totally pleased with how we played in the second half.”

Weir did not make any major changes after halftime.

“I would like to say we made some brilliant adjustments at halftime, but we really only made some minor adjustments,” Filberto said. “This group is very special. They are very focused on the task at hand. We were mentally tough, and we were physically tough.

“We have the same problem as a lot of teams in the area are having — we do not have big numbers. It is hard for us to get the kids off of the field to make adjustments. We were focused in the second half. We were determined. We battled. We hung in there.”

On the other side, the Golden Tornado enters the game on quite a roll. So far this season, Keyser outscored its opposition, 174-7.

“We play a very difficult schedule,” Filberto said. “Frankfort was undefeated. They had outscored their two previous opponents, 76-3. Now, we play Keyser, and they are the No. 3 team in the state.”

Weir is ranked No. 12 in Class AA.

Keyser defeated Robert C. Byrd, 56-7, in Week 1 on the road before defeating Berkeley Springs at home and Petersburg on the road 59-0 in the last two weeks.

“They are similar to Frankfort,” Filberto said. “They are from the same area. They run the same offense and the same defense. They are the best-coached team we will see. They are our best opponent, and we may be their best opponent.”

The teams played a memorable game last season. The Red Riders led 40-14 in the third quarter only to see the Golden Tornado storm back and score the final 27 points of the game to rally for an improbable 41-40 victory on the road.

“We had some miscues,” Filberto said. “We learned from that. We did not take advantage of some opportunities, and we did not do a good job defensively. We don’t put a lot into games that were last week or last year. They are in the past. This is the most important game because this is the game we are playing this week.

“This is the team they have been waiting for. I think they have seven starters returning on each side of the ball. They are a good team.”

In order to emerge with the victory this week, the Red Riders cannot afford to fall behind early like they did against the Falcons.

“I hope we got off to a better start this week than we did last week,” Filberto said. “There is no doubt that we are going to have to stop the run. We had trouble with that in the first half against Frankfort. We are going to have to stop the run. They can also throw the ball, but that is not there forte. To win the game, we are going to have to stop the run.

“On our side, we are going to have to put it all together. We are going to have to sustain drives and continue to pick up first downs. We are going to have to take advantage of opportunities.”

Weir is a little banged up going into the game.

“We have three kids who will not play,” Filberto said.

“Drew Curtis is our leading tackler. He got hurt in the John Marshall game. Jonathan Wetter is a starter on the line for us. He is a starter at defensive end and left tackle. He is out another week. Then, we have got Nick D’Amico. He is a special teams player. We are dinged up, but so is everyone else. It is not something I like to talk about. We are beat up, but everybody is at this time of the year. It is football.”

The trip from Weirton to Keyser is more than three hours long.

“We take pride in how we travel,” Filberto said. “We have traveled a lot. I think we do a good job with it. We stop and eat, and we stop at rest areas. We make sure we hydrate the kids. We do a good job planning our trips. We don’t want it to be about the trip.”

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