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Weir High to face new opponent in Marietta

LINING UP — Cameron Jones and the Weir High football team travels to face Marietta for the first time on Friday. (Photo by Joe Catullo)

WEIRTON — In the midst of a three-game losing streak to open the 2020 season, the Weir High Red Riders will journey down the Ohio River to play Marietta in search of that elusive first win for first-year head coach Frank Sisinni.

The opening kick Friday is set for 7 p.m. in Don Drumm Stadium. It will mark the first time that the two teams will meet on the gridiron.

The Tigers have had some success with a 24-20 win over Athens, but Sisinni says films show they are having some troubles along the way.

“They are like us in that regard,” he said. “But, they have had some success with a win under their belts. Marietta has some athletes and nice size up front. Their offensive line averages about 280 pounds per man, and that is a concern for us.”

While the Tigers have that size advantage, they have used a spread offense and count on senior quarterback Reece Gerber, who completed 22 of 35 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-20 loss to rival Parkersburg last week. The Tigers had four turnovers in that game.

“Marietta’s strength is in their passes from a spread offense,” said Sisinni, whose club lost to Linsly last week, 42-7. “They have some game breakers from different spots on the field.

“They are looking to get the ball to their top receiver, Tony Munos, who is a senior and very athletic. Gerber is a senior with some games under his belt, so he knows what to do with that offense. Junior running back Zach Bartlett had a long touchdown run against Parkersburg.”

Sisinni added that he wants the Red Riders to establish a better running attack than they have had.

“I think that it would be a big help in our play action passing,” Sisinni said when asked about his keys to victory. “We need to find a balance of running and throwing. I thought we did that in our best game so far at Frankfort.

“We also have to win the line of scrimmage. We need to continue to work on the little things that will lead to bigger successes on Friday nights. We’ve been seeing some of that, but we have not really been able to put it together in all three phases of the games.”

The Red Riders were able to gain only 85 total yards on the ground last week against the Linsly defense. Freshman Corey Lyons led the way with 36 stripes on seven carries, while sophomore starter Jamari Bass gained 19 yards with six totes. Bass has gained 146 yards this season to lead the Red Rider running backs.

Senior quarterback Anthony DiMatteis completed 22 passes for 63 yards, giving him 232 total yards for the season and completing 28 of 56 aerials with four touchdowns.

Sisinni said the Red Riders are working hard every day.

“Our kids are giving us all they can give us,” he said. “The effort is there. I keep telling the kids that as long as we keep working hard, positive things are going to happen. We saw some positives in the first half last week. I thought we played pretty solid, but Linsly broke some big plays on us, and things began to steamroll.”

Another area where Sisinni has seen improvement is some of his underclassmen. Freshman Elias Pugh got his first varsity start at tackle. And, Sisinni said sophomore Gage Hawkins has taken a spot in the line rotation. They join sophomore Cameron Jones, who has started all three games.

“We have about five freshmen that have worked their way into the rotation,” Sisinni said. “Having 25 of our 35-man team as either freshmen or sophomores means we have to keep working on the fundamentals of blocking and tackling, and those young guys are showing improvement each day. As they gain game experience, things will begin to slow down for them. They’ll get comfortable, gain confidence, and they will be better able to compete.

“I’m proud of the attitude the kids have shown. We have seen flashes of those young kids working to get that ‘w’. I feel that as long the kids keep working hard and fighting, we’re going to see our first win.”

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