WEIRTON - After three straight losses to open the season, the Weir High Red Riders thought they may have a chance to pick up that elusive first win for 2012 last week when they journeyed to Grafton, which had lost two of three games themselves.
That wasn't to be as the Riders came home licking the wounds from a 27-6 loss, but they were in the game into the third period finding themselves behind by only 13-6.
The Red Riders get a second chance this week. Facing another Class AA school that also has not won yet this year, Liberty Harrison. The Mountaineers invade the new Jimmy Carey Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff Friday evening.
"I like our chances," said head coach, Tony Filberto, about the Mountaineers. "We see some things where we might be able to make that first win happen."
Filberto says he continues to see improvement in his Red Riders, especially last week on defense.
"We had some trouble offensively because both of our starting backs were out with injuries. We had three freshmen starting on offense last week," Filberto explained. "We just couldn't get our running game going and couldn't get the pressure off of (William) Larch's back. He still got the bulk of our yardage, but his numbers were down."
Larch, who was the leading rusher among players in all 11 schools covered by the Herald-Star/Daily Times after three games, but because he was held under 100 yards rushing for the first time this season he dropped behind Maurtice Hython of Harrison Central, who has 691 yards rushing. The Grafton defense penned Larch in and limited the sophomore quarterback to just 56 yards on the ground.
Larch completed five of 16 passes for 72 yards and had one intercepted against Grafton.
Turning his attention to the Mountaineers, Filberto said they run from multiple offenses, but like to use the pro-I formation and want to run the tailback. However, the quarterback, who also is a good runner and throws well, is the key to the Liberty offense.
Continuing with the scouting report, Filberto said: "They're bigger than us, but most teams are this year. Their tackles are 270 and 245 pounds while ours are in the 220-pound range. But I feel like we have a little more speed than them and we want to exploit that."
Filberto said the game plan is to attack more on the perimeter. He said the Red Riders had some success getting to the perimeter last week against Grafton, so he plans to get back to the jet sweep offense that the Red Riders opened the season with.
"The Liberty front seven on defense are pretty aggressive so we want to try to get to the corners," he said. "We finally are getting the timing down better on the motion offense and we want to get the ball to our backs with little passes into the flat."
Filberto said senior running back and linebacker, Eric Piatt, who is one of the few returning lettermen with game experience, probably won't be back in action this week and perhaps not for a couple more games because of a broken hand sustained in the second game against Harrison Central. Also, sophomore fullback, Phil DiGirolamo, continues to nurse a sprained ankle injured in the same game. Filberto said he hopes DiGirolamo gets the OK to play this week.
"Our kids are playing hard and that's all I can ask of them," Filberto exclaimed. "We just lack experience, but we are getting better. The kids practice hard every day and get a little better every day."