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Wildcats, Red Riders looking for first victory

September 6, 2012
By RALPH COX - Sports correspondent , The Herald-Star

WEIRTON - When the Friday night game that has Weir High visiting Edison is over one of the teams will have earned its first win of the season. The two winless football teams clash at 7:30 p.m.

Weir High, which will be on the road for the first time this year, continues with its heavy dose of Buckeye Eight Conference teams. The Red Riders already have loses to Indian Creek, 52-12, and Harrison Central, 36-7. The Wildcats dropped a 37-28 decision to Oak Glen in the OVAC opener at Harding Stadium and suffered through a lopsided 55-0 licking at Carrollton last week.

"Edison is a good football team," said Red Rider coach, Tony Filberto. "They are 0-2, but they have played two very good teams. Edison is well coached and they are athletic.

"Sometimes when we see a team that has no wins we forget who they have played. Oak Glen, which lost just four players from the starting lineup of a playoff team a year ago and Carrollton are really good."

"It's hard to say at this point in the week how we're bouncing back from Friday," said Edison head coach Mike McKenzie. "We'll find out on Friday night".

Filberto is buoyed by the fact his team appears to have improved from Week 1 to Week 2 and he is hoping the improvement will continue.

Fact Box


(games at 7:30 p.m. unless noted)

28 vs. Oak Glen 37

0 at Carrollton 55

Sept. 7 Weir

Sept. 14 at Union Local, 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Buckeye Local, 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 Harrison Central

Oct. 5 St. Clairsville

Oct. 12 at Martins Ferry, 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 Bellaire

Oct. 27 at Indian Creek, 7 p.m.

Weir High

(games at 7 p.m. unless noted)

12 Indian Creek 52

7 Harrison Central 36

Sept. 7 at Edison, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 14 at Grafton, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 21 Liberty

Sept. 28 Oak Glen

Oct. 5 Magnolia

Oct. 12 Catholic Central

Oct. 19 at Brooke

Oct. 26 at E. Liverpool, 7:30 p.m.

"I saw a lot of improvement. This team didn't totally collapse as it has in the past," he said. "We did a lot of positive things against Harrison Central. We just want to keep getting better. We hope to improve on a day-to-day basis."

The Red Riders are led by sophomore quarterback, William Larch, who is the leading ground gainer amongst the 11 area schools covered by the Daily Times and Herald-Star with 371 total rushing yards on 38 attempts for an average of 9.76 yards a carry. He has scored two touchdowns.

"We want the ball in the hands of our best athlete," Filberto said. "Usually we want that best athlete to be the quarterback because the ball starts in his hands. William has responded to the challenge very well especially in the running department."

Said McKenzie of what his team needs to do to contain Larch, "We have to play assignment football because he is a dangerous runner. We have to read our keys and when we need to finish the tackle when we get there. That has been an issue for us, not finishing plays."

The Red Riders seemed to be out of sync in the passing game last week with several passes hitting receivers that weren't looking to catch the ball.

"We worked hard on our passing game in practice on Monday and will continue to work hard on it every day," Filberto explained. "One of the things we have to realize is that Larch is just a sophomore with only four games under his belt, and we have young pass catchers, too. They're good athletes, but they have to learn."

Said McKenzie of Weir's other weapons, "They have some good skill kids. They have some speed at receiver that we have to be aware of. They have a pretty good line. We're facing a much improved Weir team than we've faced the past two years."

As you would expect, Weir High and Edison are at the bottom of the list of 11 teams in the paper's coverage area when it comes to team offense and defense.

In team offense, the Red Riders are ninth with a total of 533 yards, which includes 464 rushing and 69 passing. Edison is tenth with 306 rushing yards and 169 passing for 475 total yards.

"Offensively we have to execute," said McKenize. "We have to get everyone on the same page. If one person breaks down the whole play breaks down.

"It hasn't been one or two players that have been the issue. We're taking turns breaking down. Someone makes a really nice play and then turns around and misses their assignment the next. It's been a rotation of everyone.

"We must all execute at the same time. If we do that we will be an explosive team."

Defensively, the two teams rank 10th and 11th. Weir High has allowed 614 yards rushing and 225 passing and given up 88 points. The Wildcats have yielded 723 rushing yards and 148 through the air along with 92 points.

Starting fullback and linebacker, Phil DiGirolamo, a sophomore, twisted an ankle in the game last week and Filberto said his status is day-to-day. Also day-to-day is senior Eric Piatt, who opened the season at running back, was moved to wingback and later DiGirolamo in the Harrison Central loss.