Weir’s playoff chances, Brooke’s pride on the line in rivalry clash
WEIRTON — When the Weir High and Brooke football teams annually get together on the gridiron, fans know that this intense rivalry, which has been going on since 1969, produces thrilling games and upsets.
For example, the last two years have seen Brooke snatch victories from Weir in the last two minutes of the games. Weir coach Tony Filberto’s clubs made it to the postseason both years with 7-3 records but had to make long road trips in the first round games. Had the Red Riders been able to finish those games on top, there is a chance they would have made a top 8 ranking that carries a home playoff game.
The Red Riders (6-3) are knocking on the playoff door once again but likely won’t make it to the top 16 without a win over the Bruins. A top 8 finish isn’t in the cards even with a win.
The senior night game unfolds Friday at Jimmy Carey Stadium with a 7 p.m. start.
This won’t be just another senior night for the Red Riders. With a win, this group of eight would be the first class to make it to the state playoffs all four years of their high school careers, so there is a lot riding on this game for them.
For Brooke, not so much. With a 2-6 record, the Bruins’ playoff hopes are dashed, but there remains the rivalry and pride that goes with a game like this. Brooke, which has won the last eight meetings in a row, holds the lead in the long-standing series, 34-13.
“We have struggled with turnovers and penalties this season, but when you look at it we’ve been in most of the games until the fourth quarter,” Brooke coach Mac McLean said. “We just seemed to fade in a lot of those games, so the scores look like we got buried. But four or five of them went down to the fourth quarter.
“You know, you can look at film and make judgments on what offenses and defenses work best, but at the end of the day this one is just a good old fashioned high school rivalry. I’m sure that with Weir High playing for their playoff lives, it will make for a charged up atmosphere on top of the hill in Weirton. If both teams were 0-9, it would be a good football game. That’s the kind of rivalry it is.”
Weir has it’s back against the wall in terms of being one of the 16 ranked teams in Class AA in the state. The Red Riders currently are ranked 16th after their 41-6 victory last week over East Liverpool.
One thing for sure, Filberto is glad that Chris Yachini graduated from Brooke last May. With Weir holding a slim 7-6 lead and just seconds remaining, he snagged a pass from then sophomore quarterback Gage Yost, dodged a tackler and turned up field and didn’t stop until he reached the end zone 92 yards away.
“That’s the way this game is,” Filberto said. “It’s that kind of rivalry, it’s senior night and it’s week 3 of the playoffs for us because we needed wins in these last three games to make the playoffs. That’s what high school football is all about. It is exciting, and this should be a great game. I know we’re looking forward to it.”
The Bruins downed Buckhannon-Upshur, 28-7, during homecoming on Friday. They eliminated a lot of recurring mistakes that have plagued them this season, and McLean said after the game that that was the biggest difference.
“Also, Ethan Secrist had a big game for us,” he said. “I’m not sure how many passes he caught, but he had something like 190 yards and three touchdowns. We got things working in our pass game and got Buckhannon down early. Secrist has put up some big numbers for us this year, and I’m sure that when coaches look at our films that the first player on our offense to stop is No. 1.”
Secrist is a senior at 6-foot-4 and weighs 180 pounds. Along with him, Filberto also has some concern with the Brooke players up front.
“Brooke is a good football team despite the record,” he said. “They are big up front. I don’t know that we’ve payed anybody bigger this year, overall. They beat a good Buckhannon-Upshur team last week, and that will give them momentum going into this game.”
Yost, a junior, is back as the Brooke starter but injured a knee and had to leave the game last week. Logan Williams, who has experience as a starter the last two years, replaced him when he went down.
“Yost has some soreness in his knee, and we want to touch all the bases before he’s cleared to play Friday,” McLean said. “But both of our quarterbacks are experienced, and when Logan went into the game last week we didn’t miss a beat. I have confidence in both of them.”
Yost is more of an option-type running quarterback and is Brooke’s leading rusher with 372 yards on 53 carries. He has completed 47-of-90 passes for 648 yards and four touchdowns, while Williams is more of a drop back in the pocket type of quarterback. Williams has completed 21-of-41 for 333 yards and four scores.
Senior Dalton Valero, who began his high school career at Weir, is the Bruin tailback and has rushed 50 times for 140 yards. Sophomore Max Camilletti is the speedster and has 112 yards with 47 carries.
On the other side, Weir’s junior starting quarterback Tyler Komorowski injured a knee in the fourth game but returned to action last week against the Potters. Against East Liverpool, he played the whole game at defensive end and a couple of offensive series at quarterback. He has completed 30-of-58 passes for 538 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Sophomore Sebastian Spencer was thrust into the breach when Komorowski went down and has shown steady improvement each week. He has completed 36-of-69 for 589 yards and eight scores. Both are good ball carriers, too, but with different styles. Spencer is a speedster while Komorowski is more of a power rusher.
Filberto said there will be a quarterback competition going on this week in practice.
“Like Brooke, we’re blessed with two quarterbacks,” he said. “Some years you don’t have even one. I can’t tell you on Monday which one will start. It depends on what happens in practice. We’ll put them in a competitive situation and see what happens.
“Then again, we may use both or have both in the same backfield together. We’ve been dabbling with a lot of things. It’s a great problem to have.”
Both teams also are blessed with outstanding wide receivers.
Brooke has seniors Secrist and Trip Moore, a transfer from Madonna. Both are about 6-foot-4 and have speed. Secrist ranks second among all receivers in the Herald-Star/Daily Times coverage area with 32 receptions for 606 yards and six touchdowns. Moore has 14 catches for 151 yads and two touchdowns.
The Red Riders counter with juniors Reed Reitter, a transfer from Burgettstown and grandson of former Brooke head football coach Dave Reitter, and Jake McCoy who transferred from Oak Glen. Reitter caught two touchdown passes against East Liverpool last week and now has seven with 29 receptions. He’s as valuable to the Red Riders with his talented right foot as he is at receiver or safety on defense. He kicked field goals of 42 and 24 yards last week, while McCoy, who sat out several games earlier in the season, ran back a kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown.
The two teams have played one common opponent in John Marshall. The Red Riders beat the Monarchs, 29-26, in Week 3, while the Bruins lost 37-14 two weeks ago.
Seniors being honored prior to the game are Caleb Rea, Josh Taflan, Jaylon Bridges, Tyler Mack, Frank Ty Hudacheck, Will Rupert, Zach Martin and Mason Rice.