WELLSBURG - It is hard to believe that the Weir High and Brooke football teams are going to face off tonight in Brooke's Veterans Memorial Stadium in one of the hardest fought rivalries in the Ohio Valley, and the teams have but one win between them.
Fans still remember the epic battles these two teams had during the 1960s, '70s and '80s when they were in the same Class AAA ranks and fighting for playoff berths.
That lone win this year was Brooke's 34-33 victory over Point Pleasant three weeks ago. Point Pleasant was unbeaten and state ranked at the time.
Both teams are beset with similar situations this season. Namely, new head coaches, youth, lack of depth and a ton of injuries.
"Brooke hasn't done well, but they have a very difficult Triple A schedule and they also are struggling with injury problems like us," said Weir High coach, Tony Filberto, whose team has lost all seven of its games.
"But I'm looking for it to be an exciting night of high school football between two old rivals. You can't find much more exciting football year in and year out than when these two teams get together.
"I encourage the fans to come out and enjoy that atmosphere that we've had in the past."
Although first-year Brooke coach, Sean Blumette, is new on the scene hailing from the Western Pennsylvania area, he is well aware of the rivalry that exists.
"I know that you have a situation where two schools with close proximity you have a rivalry," he said. "About half the town of Weirton attends Weir High and the other half goes to Brooke so these kids know each other pretty well."
Blumette noted that both teams have gone through similar situations this year with new coaches, learning new systems, being young and beset by injuries.
However, Bluemette expects that starting running back and linebacker, Raleigh Mason, will be returning to bolster the Bruin lineup. Mason injured a knee on the third play of the first game of the season, a 35-34 loss to Parkersburg, and has missed out on a lot his senior season.
While Mason is returning, Blumette said he's not sure whether Alec Buchmelter, Brooke's starting quarterback the past three seasons, will be able to go full tilt. Buchmelter injured a hamstring in the 53-27 loss to Parkersburg South last week. If Buchmelter, who can't go, Aaron Walker, a sophomore, will be the signal caller.
Buchmelter has completed 75 of 149 passes for 912 yards and nine touchdowns. He has rushed for 198 yards and five scores. Freshman Justin Loughrie is the Bruins' leading rusher with 369 yards and three touchdowns.
Sir Wilfrid Laurier at Big Red, 7 p.m.
STEUBENVILLE - Big Red will continue its drive for a berth in the Region 11 playoffs tonight when Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate Institute comes to town.
The Blue Devils, based in Scarborough, Ontario, but part of the Toronto school district, will bring a 3-1 record to Harding Stadium for their first meeting with Big Red.
Reno Saccoccia's squad jumped back into the Division III postseason picture following last week's 20-14 come-from-behind victory over Morgantown. Big Red stands at 6-2 and rated sixth in the region.
Laurier, named for a former Canadian prime minister, owns victories over Leaside, East York and Birchmount. The Blue Devils, considered a Division I school by Ohio standards, fell to Macdonald.
"I know they are really looking forward to coming down here," Saccoccia said of the Blue Devils. "I've talked to their coach several times and he is really up on our rules. Other teams we've played from Canada were not real familiar with the differences.
"This is their third good year in a row and I'm sure they will be ready to get after it. And, thank goodness for them or we wouldn't have had a game."
The Blue Devils, according to Saccoccia, employ a "wide open offense, a spread attack."
"Defensively, they'll play a 4-3 but they'll have to modify their defense some since in their league, they play 12 people," the Big Red mentor said.
Indian Creek at
Buckeye Local, 7 p.m.
YORKVILLE - The run for the playoffs is in full effect for the Indian Creek Redskins as they travel to Buckeye 8 rival Buckeye Local tonight.
The Redskins currently sit fourth in the Ohio Division III, Region 11 rankings and are coming off an emotional 33-21 win over Harrison Central that was in question until Alex Young returned an interception 96 yards for a score with under a minute remaining.
With that being the case, the danger for the 7-1 Redskins isn't in overlooking the 4-4 Panthers, but maybe being a little too high from last week's excitement.
"Obviously I'm not going to tell you I'm not worried about that," said Indian Creek head coach Andrew Connor. "We're trying to make sure we have a good week of coaching to get them ready for things we didn't do well against Harrison, and there were things.
"I can tell you today (Tuesday) that they were reminded by me today that if they think they'll just show up at Buckeye Local they'll be on the other end of the score Friday."
The Panthers may have dropped a 48-6 decision to St. Clairsville last week, but Buckeye Local head coach Phil Pest and Connor saw some definite positives in the Panthers performance.
"Coming off this St. Clairsville game we played physical and we were happy with that," said Pest. "They are coming to our place on senior night and our kids will be emotional and will play hard. I think our kids will be ready and will have a good chance to win."
Added Connor, "We showed the kids this. They did a really good job in a time consuming way against St. Clairsville. I know how good St. Clairsville is up front and they moved it on them very well in the first half.
"Looking at them and what I know about St. Clairsville it really impressed me."
Buckeye Local's offense averages 218.75 yards per game and 16.75 points per contest. The Panthers' rushing attack is led by Austin Marshall's 421 yards and three scores. Signal caller Nathan Kirk has thrown for 705 yards and six scores. His favorite target has been Shane Duncan with 20 catches for 505 yards and three scores.
The Panthers will find tough sledding against an Indian Creek defense that is surrendering just 217.5 yards and 17.25 points per contest, and seems to be improving.
Harrison Central at
Union Local, 7 p.m.
MORRISTOWN - Harrison Central head coach Justin Kropka believes it when he hears that tonight's game is a must-win for his football team.
But, he also believes that same thing about Weeks 1, 2, 3 and so forth. The fact that his Huskies have lost two games in a row and slipped to eighth in the Division IV, Region 15 playoff rankings doesn't make this week any bigger than the rest.
"Even if we're sitting in 20th (in the region), it's a must-win game for me," Kropka said. "I sure hope it feels the same way for the kids. We start lifting the Monday after Thanksgiving and go four days a week, so we've got a lot invested for these 10 games."
The Huskies next challenge comes Friday when they make their final road trip of the regular season to take on Union Local.
"We go into each game hoping to win like all teams, but unfortunately, we've come up short the last couple of weeks," Kropka said. "We hope to come out on the better end of things this week. Every game is the Super Bowl to me. We're not preparing any harder this week than we have for any other game because the playoffs are involved. I'm preparing hard because I want to beat Union Local."
The Jets have experienced another season of growing pains. Coach Mark Cisar's squad is 1-7 on the season after dropping a 52-14 decision at Bellaire last Saturday.
"We only have five seniors, so our kids understand their job and it's to get better each week," Cisar said. "Our kids are still busting their butts, giving us everything they have, so it's been a joy coaching these kids even though our win-loss record isn't favorable."
The biggest challenge the Jets face this week is somehow finding a way to slow down the vaunted Harrison Central ground game, which has been chewing up yardage in chunks.
"We know they're going to line up and run right at us," Cisar said. "We've had trouble stopping them each of the last two years, so we have to find a way to slow them down."
Senior Maurtice Hython is the area's leading rusher. He's ran for 1,367 yards on 161 carries and scored 14 touchdowns.
Bellaire at Edison, 7:30 p.m.
RICHMOND - The Bellaire Big Reds are certain about one thing this week. They won't be overlooking Edison and its 2-6 mark tonight.
Not that it was needed, but the Wildcats certainly caught the Big Reds' attention after they posted an impressive 35-22 victory against Martins Ferry last Friday at Purple Rider Stadium.
"I don't think their record is any indication of the type of team they are," said Davis. "They played very inspired football last week, obviously and they're a typical Edison team that we've faced the last three years."
The Big Reds took care of Union Local last Saturday in their home finale and are now sitting in seventh place in the OHSAA Division V, Region 17 computer poll.
"We still have two weeks to go and our focus has to be on continuing to improve and getting better," Davis said. "We have to continue to be disciplined and play with consistency."
The Wildcats, meanwhile, are looking to end their season on the upswing and a victory against the Big Reds and then a chance to spoil arch rival Indian Creek's season could go a long way in making that happen.
"It's always for our kids to get a win," said personable Wildcats' head coach Mike McKenzie. "We've dealt with a lot of adversity this year, but the kids have stepped up and responded. I just couldn't be prouder of how they played last weekend."
In beating the Purple Riders last week, Edison was the beneficiary of seven turnovers, including five in the first 24 minutes.
"Obviously, this is a much different scheme than we saw," McKenzie said. "We hope to stop the run last week and this week it's the pass, but Bellaire is certainly capable of running it. This is a big, big challenge because Bellaire is very good."
Hundred at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
TORONTO - The Toronto Red Knights enter tonight's game with winless Hundred coming of a two-game losing streak.
For head coach Eric Meek and his squad it's time to put the past behind them and focus on the present and future of the program.
"It's amazing, kids sure do handle adversity better than adults do," he said. "We've had a good week of practice so far. Can't worry about what's happened. We have to worry about this week. It is the last home game for our five seniors. We need to worry about that.
"Not about what happened or could of been. We want to sent the seniors out at Clarke Hinkle Stadium with a win. We're playing for our seniors and our future.
"We feel we have a bright future. We need to focus on the positives."
One of those positives is that despite six turnovers last week against Conotton Valley, the Red Knights showed explosiveness on offense they hope to carry over to this week.
"It was a real battle out there," said Meek. "Both teams fought really hard to the end. Offensively, against a big physical team like Conotton Valley, we turned the ball over six times and scored 32 points.
"We did a lot of good things but you can't turn it over six times. You have to wonder how many points we might of scored if we didn't turn it over six times."
Quarterback Blaze Glenn completed 13 of 24 for 306 yards and two scores and ran for 70 more stripes. Chez Glenn caught five passes for 172 yards and the six-pointer. Charles Ross III caught a 66-yard touchdown strike as well.