Everything on the line
Weir, Brooke meet for the 50th and, arguably, most important time
WEIRTON — In the 49-year history of Weir High versus Brooke football games, it is likely that few had the importance of the 50th meeting that will be played Friday night at Jimmy Carey Stadium.
It might come as a surprise to many, but both teams are eyeing slim chances of making it to their respective playoffs — Weir High in Class AA and Brooke in AAA.
It turns out that it is one of those rare years in the Class AAA ranks where several teams with losing records are likely going into the postseason. Should Brooke win out in its last two games, its 4-6 record could get it in, depending upon what bonus points they may receive.
A Weir High win would put the Red Rider season record at 6-4, and the only ways it could get in would be for teams currently ranked in the Top 16 to lose and if its defeated opponents win so that they receive considerable help in the form of bonus points.
“As strange as it may seem, if they win out, Brooke has a chance to make the playoffs at 4-6,” said veteran Red Rider coach Tony Filberto, whose club now is 5-4 and in a must-win situation just to keep their hopes alive for a playoff berth. “In AAA, there will be at least three teams with losing records that will make the playoffs. The system needs to be revamped. It is just totally out of hand right now and needs some changes.”
Brooke currently is ranked 20th of 27 teams in the AAA division. Brooke plays Preston County in its season finale on Nov. 8, and is currently tied with John Marshall for the 15th ranking, both with a 3-5 records. In that division, only the top nine teams have winning records.
“In AA, there are 44 teams and there are going to be some really good teams like us that may not make the playoffs. John Marshall is going to make the playoffs, and we beat them all over the field. They scored their touchdown with seven seconds left in the game. We won that game 28-7. But, we can’t worry about those things right now. We have to focus on beating Brooke and take care of our own business then see what happens this week and that last week of football in West Virginia.”
John Marshall is the only common opponent between the teams. John Marshall beat Brooke, 40-6, two weeks ago.
This will be the 49th year of the neighborhood rivalry, which began in 1969 with the consolidation of the schools in Brooke County. While this is the 49th year, it will be the 50th time the two teams have met on the gridiron because they played each other twice in 1994. Brooke won the regular-season game, 17-7, and the Red Riders took the playoff game in a thriller, 21-14, in overtime.
Brooke leads the series 34-15.
“Brooke played a really good football game last week,” Filberto said about the Bruins’ 35-7 win over Buckhannon-Upshur. “They came out with a couple of different things, and they scored 35 points. So, they are getting better as a football team.”
In his sixth year at Brooke, coach Mac McLean said the team’s biggest problem in another rough year is depth.
“They are the type of injuries that keeps kids in street clothes for the first couple of days of practice,” he said. “We’re in that cycle of trying to tape kids back together to get them ready to play on Friday night. That makes it hard to change things. We have had to shuffle the deck just about every Monday.
“I think we are slowly starting to turn it in the right direction. We had a really good game against Wheeling Park for about two-and-a-half quarters early in the year, then won at Hedgesville and went on a skid where we ran up against some pretty good teams. I think last week was a step in the right direction.”
McLean has competed all season with first-year quarterback Josh Shorts, who has passed for 768 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s a big junior who has run the ball 36 times for 129 yards and a score.
“Josh is one of our better defensive linemen that we moved to quarterback,” McLean said. “For a guy that has had as many quarterback injuries as I’ve had over the last couple years, it will drive you nuts. He’s done a good job at quarterback, and I think he is slowly starting to develop. He’s still got another year.”
“You can’t look at Weir High without seeing they have one of the fastest human beings inside the borders of West Virginia, if not the fastest human being (senior quarterback Sebastian Spencer). There are a lot of defensive coordinators that have had sleepless nights trying to figure him out and that is especially for us because we have had a lot of trouble with running quarterbacks. We have to figure out how to stop him. We’re going to have our hands full, that’s for sure.”
Spencer had another big game in last week’s 38-27 win over East Liverpool and now has rushed with the football 99 times for 649 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also has shown improvement with his passing, completing 48 of 87 for 686 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions.
While Shorts is the trigger man for the Bruins, Filberto shows concern for senior running back Max Camilletti, who leads the Bruins with 272 rushing yards on 51 carries and a score.
“Brooke builds their offense around a really good back in Camilletti,” Filberto said of his scouting report. “He is just a top-notch back. He’s tough. He’s an athlete, and they want to get him the ball. Shorts is a big, physical quarterback that can throw the ball. They like to pass it to Camden Bates. I coached his father here at Weir High when he was in high school, so there are pretty good blood lines there.
“They (Brooke) are going to run the ball, use play action and throw the ball vertical. Every team has an identity, and Brooke’s is to run the football with Camilletti, then fake it to him and throw it to Bates (18 catches, 328 yards, four scores).”
McLean said his key to victory is to keep the Weir High offense off the field. He said his team has to defend Spencer by controlling the ball offensively.
Filberto’s keys to victory are to play a complete game from start to finish like his Red Riders did last week.
“If we play with the same efficiency and mindset that we had last week, I think we will be successful,” he said. “You can’t get in this game and turn the football over or give up two or three big plays because you’ll fuel the fire against a team that hasn’t been winning a lot. The longer you keep them around, the tougher they are to beat.
“Every year this has been a good football game. There have only been a couple of years where it has been a separation game. So, we can’t look at their record. We have to expect that type of game again this year.”