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Huskies bring running game to Weir High

August 30, 2012
By RALPH COX - Sports correspondent , The Herald-Star

WEIRTON - Despite last Friday's lopsided 52-12 loss to Indian Creek and the prospect of playing Harrison Central, a team that Weir High coach Tony Filberto feels could be the best in the Buckeye 8 conference, Filberto is optimistic his Red Riders can bounce back and eliminate the mistakes of last week.

"It wasn't that we played so poorly, it was we played with a lack of consistency," the veteran coach explained. "And it's not like we are incapable of playing well. I thought we did play well in spots, we just made too many mistakes.

"I didn't have them prepared to handle what they were confronted with last week and the burden's mine to correct that, and I'm sure we will."

However looking ahead, Filberto says Harrison Central, a 14-7 winner last week at Wheeling Central, looks to be "awfully good."

"The fun part about high school football is that it's always a surprise," said Huskies coach Justin Kropka. "You never know because the first week is always up in the air.

"We showed a lot of guts and the kids played hard. I thought we handled the momentum swings well, but you should when you have a lot of guys who have played a lot of football for you.

"They responded to adversity really well and the game-changing players were made by our seniors and that's how it should be. I was more impressed by how we were mentally than physically."

Wheeling Central was without starting quarterback Parker Henry, who has a knee injury. His fill-in, C.J. Burch, ran the ball 31 times for 225 yards.

"I'm telling you, that kid is good," said Kropka. "He is a good football player, no question about it. I kept telling our kids that Wheeling Central was going to be good and was going to be physical and they had better be ready."

According to Filberto, Harrison Central has several players that could be Division 1 college recruits.

Heading the list offensively is Maurtice Hython, who led the area running backs last year as a junior with 1,496 yards rushing. He averaged an impressive 6.1 yards a carry and scored 19 touchdowns last season. He picked up right where he left off against the Maroon Knights last week by rushing for 194 yards on 24 carries, scoring once.

In that regard, it was similar to the performance last week by Weir High quarterback, Mike Larch, who led the area rushers with 221 yards on the ground only to be denied scoring.

The Huskies line up in a power-I formation and want to run the ball inside of the tackles, according to Filberto.

Filberto also has other offensive concerns about the Huskies. He said their offensive line is big and experienced and that 6-foot-5 quarterback Rasheen Mitchell, who is very athletic, also runs well.

He rushed with the ball 12 times for 72 yards and completed six of 12 passes for 58 yards and had one picked off against Wheeling Central.

"We have to cut down on our mental mistakes, especially on offense," said Kropka. "We made it harder on ourselves than we should have. We had a couple of unforced errors that could have changed the game."

By comparison, Larch connected on three of 15 aerials for 34 yards and also had one picked off last week.

"Harrison Central creates a lot of problems for us," said Filberto. "They are very good. They may be the best team we'll see all year."

While the Huskies defeated the defending Class A state champion, it was a squeaker in that the Maroon Knights had an opportunity to tie the game in the final minutes. Wheeling Central was faced with a fourth-and-inches situation deep in Harrison Central territory, Wheeling Central quarterback, Jimmy Burch, was stopped short when linebacker, Tyler Rose, shot the gap unblocked to stop him and seal the victory.

The Huskies defense is another concern for Filberto.

"They are a big, physical team defensively," he said. "They don't blitz often because they don't have to. They are very disciplined on defense. They are so good on defense that they don't have to do a lot of scheme things either."

Filberto said Larch, was very good running the ball and that senior running back, Eric Piatt did a good job as well.

"We just couldn't get the ball to the perimeter," Filberto explained. "If we would have been able to do that, our run game would have been even better."

Filberto admitted his team had difficulty in getting to the outside because there were timing problems with the jet sweep. The Red Riders fumbled attempts at handing off to the wingback on the jet sweep and the center snap accidentally hit one of the sweepers on another occasion.

"We have run repitions on the jet sweep over and over again in practice and scrimmages since we started the first of August," he said. "We did well with it, but for some reason the timing was off last week, which meant we couldn't get to the corners. Those are some of the mistakes we will take care of and we'll run the same plays again this week. We'll just do them better."

Added Kropka, "We can expect a lot less mistakes out of Weir. I told our kids not to expect those kid of gifts. You don't really know your kids until they are under fire. You really are not sure what they can do until they are out there under the lights. Weir is a young team coming off some tough years. Again, I don't think they'll gift-wrap as many things for us as they did in Week 1."

Filberto said he and his team, which has won just three times in the past 31 games, are aware that they played a good football team last week and will face another this Friday.

"We're certainly not going to panic after one game or anytime," Filberto concluded.