Red Riders knock off Crusaders to open the season
WEIRTON – Weir High utilized speed and a seasoned quarterback to hold off a young but stubborn Steubenville Catholic Central team, 33-20, in the nightcap of the Clash At the Carey on Saturday. It was first season-opening victory for the Red Riders in six years.
Veteran quarterback William Larch passed for 255 yards and three touchdowns and ran the pigskin for 109 more yards in leading the Red Riders.
His speedy receivers, Kameron Davis, Donovan Spencer and JoJo Rice caught touchdown passes of 23, 69 and 31 yards, respectively, and Davis rushed three yards to for a score. Davis, a senior, finished the night with 61 yards on 13 carries.
While the victory was sweet for the Red Riders, who have now won just four of their last 21 games, head coach Tony Filberto is concerned about his team being flagged 18 times for 164 penalty yards. The Crusaders were charged with eight penalties in the game.
“If the penalties would continue to happen, it would really hurt us,” said Filberto. “You just can’t continue to operate that way. That’s something we have to correct.
“Our speed was very noticeable in this game and I thought our defense was outstanding. I thought were very physical up front and reacted to the football so the speed showed on that side of the football, not just with the offense.”
Davis intercepted two Tony Barber passes and ran one of them back 20 yards for a score.
Central coach Steve Daley was disappointed with his team’s play in the first half.
“We preach to the kids that you have to block and tackle,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what we do X and O-wise you have to block and tackle. In the first half, we didn’t do those two things very well. Getting down to the basics of football, we did a better job in the second half, but it has to be consistent and be there all the time.”
The Crusaders outscored Weir High ,13-7, in the second half after finding themselves behind, 26-7, at the intermission.
“We knew about Weir High’s speed coming in,” Daley continued. “They had two kids that were top kids in the state of West Virginia in the 100. So we knew what they had speed-wise coming in, but that’s something you can’t coach. Ssometimes you have to realize who you’re lining up against and compensate for it.
“We have to go back an re-emphasize those little things, those fundamental things. We can’t spend too much time mulling on this because we have Wheeling Central next week on the road again. We have a fairly young team that has to bounce back.”
The Red Riders didn’t spend much time getting to the end zone. After putting the opening kickoff in play at their own 36-yard line, they marched 64 yards with a 10-play drive that culminated in Davis going into the end zone over left guard. The Red Rider extra point kick was off the mark.
A little over four minutes later in the first quarter, Davis stepped in front of a Barber pass at the Crusader 20 and circled his way to the left sideline to the end zone. This time a Red Rider pass failed to get the extra point.
Central responded to that score with a scoring drive of its own going 65 yards in nine plays. Stone Romano capped the drive when he accepted a pitch from Barber on the option play and swept right end for a 14-yard score. Romano’s kick was true and the Crusaders were back in the game trailing 12-7.
Larch got into the act in the second quarter tossing two touchdown passes, one a 23-yard screen pass to Davis and less than three minutes later he hit the speedy sophomore Donovan Spencer on a fly pattern down the left sideline from 31 yards out. Junior Domenick Murphy caught a pass from Larch for the two-point conversion after Davis’ touchdown.
“William played like we expect him to play,” said Filberto of Larch. “He did an outstanding job – made plays and at the end when he had to make plays as we were under pressure, you go to your main man and he made the plays for us.”
Filberto was referring to Larch finding Rice open in the end zone from 31 yards out for the touchdown that put the Red Riders up 33-14 and pretty much sealed the victory with 4:58 left in the game. Larch got loose on a 52-yard run as his Red Riders were running out the clock after Barber’s late score.
However, Central wasn’t ready to roll over and play dead as they took the ensuing kickoff and drove 60 yards with Barber going in from two yards out. A highlight of that drive was a 40-yard Barber pass to junior John Fallon.
Fallon caught a 25-yard aerial from Barber in the third quarter to cut the Weir High lead to 27-14.