WEIRTON - Week 8 of the high school football season and Weir High is still looking for its first win and getting that elusive win will be tough this week as 5-2 Steubenville Catholic Central comes to town for a 7 p.m. start Friday at Jimmy Carey Stadium on Senior Night.
The Crusaders have become known for the passing game since Brenton Colabella stepped on the field three years ago as a freshman. Now a junior, Colabella has already established school passing records and is leading the Crusaders to a possible playoff spot.
Meanwhile, Weir High coach, Tony Filberto, continues to piece together a lineup full of freshmen and sophomores. With eight freshmen in the lineup, the Red Riders went down 51-12 to once-beaten Magnolia.
"We just don't have the upper classmen with experience, but our five seniors are very good leaders and great kids," said Filberto, who is in his first year back as Weir High head coach.
"They're a dangerous team right now because they are a hungry team," said second-year Central mentor Steve Daley. "They have a lot of younger kids playing. Those kids are excited to be getting varsity experience. They have some talent and some athletic ability.
"Weir's going to be gunning for that first win and that's what makes them dangerous and that's what we have to guard against."
The injury bug has hit the Red Riders this year. Already thin in the depth department when the season started because the 2011 Red Riders were a senior-dominated team, three of the five seniors have been injured and missed games. In addition, several of the underclassmen that were starters also sustained injuries that either has ended their season early or caused them to miss a number of games.
One of them is sophomore quarterback, William Larch, one of the better athletes on the squad. Larch sustained a knee injury in the fourth quarter of the Oak Glen game two weeks ago and will not return this year, according to Filberto. Larch missed all but three games in 2011 after he earned the starting job at quarterback as a freshman.
That means that Filberto will start freshman, Jake Wypasek, for the second straight week and freshman running back, Kameron Davis, also will see plenty of action. He was used a lot in the "Wildcat" formation a week ago.
Also not available Friday is sophomore fullback/linebacker, Phil Digiralamo, who has been nursing an ankle injury for the past five weeks. He returned against Oak Glen two weeks ago only to injure the ankle again.
Filberto, however, got good news this week with the return of junior center, Shain Livada, who missed last week's game.
"Our scouting report shows what most people already know that Steubenville Catholic Central is a pretty good football team," Filberto said. "They are on a roll and they score a lot of points.
"Their quarterback, Colabella, is very good and distributes the ball around. Because their pass game is so good, it makes their running game better."
The Crusaders are fresh off a 63-14 thumping of Ohio Division V Barnesville in which Colabella threw for one touchdown (he tops the area with 22 scoring tosses). He completed 11 of 23 passes for 210 yards.
That win boosted the Crusaders into third place in the Division VI, Region 21 standings. The Crusaders invade Jimmy Carey Stadium with four straight wins..
After leading the area in passing a year ago with 1,941 yards and 18 touchdowns, Colabella has tossed the football around in the first seven games this year for 1,827 yards. He started the season with 2,962 passing yards during the first two years of his career so he stands at 4,789 career passing yards.
As you would expect, Colabella's receiving corps is right up there among the leaders of players in this newspaper's coverage area.
It is obvious from the statistics and Colabella is not just building up his numbers with short passes as Senior Zach Herrington has 32 catches for 569 yards and nine touchdowns with an average of more than 17 yards per catch. Fellow senior, Kyle Laukert, averages 21.3 yards a catch and junior, Ryan Fletcher, gets 18 yards on average with every catch.
Central's offense compiled 487 offensive yards against Barnesville (277 on ground and 201 through the air). Senior Doug Maslowski had 195 and scored five times. For the season, he has 612 yards and nine touchdowns.
"That's where we want to be," said Daley. "We want to be as balanced as possible and as unpredictable as possible in different situations.
"On Saturday night, it was a matter of the numbers game. Barnesville only had five players in the box and the run presented itself. We feel that if a team gives us a look like that with a back like we have in Doug (Maslowski), we can get him in space. We like our chances when he's in a one-on-one situation with defensive backs.
"We've been reminding our kids that we are where we are because of hard work, because we've stressed the little things and because we have been working on fundamentals. That can't change and we can't be satisfied with the status quo, we have to continue to improve.
"Every time we step onto the field it is an opportunity for us to improve as a team. That's the approach we are taking right now.
"We are where we are because we have pushed the kids as a staff and they have pushed themselves as a team. But, we still have a lot of football left to play."
Filberto said he has always felt that the best defense against a passing team is to rush the quarterback.
"Our approach in practice this week is to work on rushing the passer," he said. "We have to get after the quarterback. Even though I believe our young kids are getting better and better, we also need some breaks to go our way this week."