Weir High matches speed with Potters
WEIRTON — With their backs to the wall and every down being so important, Weir High gets back to the friendly confines of Jimmy Carey Stadium Friday night for a homecoming confrontation with dangerous East Liverpool. Opening kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Both teams go into the fray with identical 4-4 records and look a lot alike, according to veteran Red Rider coach Tony Filberto.
“They are like us,” said Filberto, whose team got back on the winning track last week with a 53-7 win at Edison. “They have a lot of speed. I think we are two evenly matched football teams. Both have speed, both have some size and both have the same records, so it should be a pretty good night of football.”
Both teams feature a speedster in the lineup. The Potters have senior Derek Carter (5-foot-6, 150 pounds), who last week established the all-time East Liverpool rushing record, and Weir High has senior Sebastian Spencer, who last week had a hand in the six total touchdowns in three different ways.
“Carter may be fast, but he’ll be the second fastest on that field Friday night,” Filberto said.
The state sprint champion in track, Spencer accounted for 221 total yards last week, scoring on the first two snaps by triggering a 51-yard scoring pass and a 25-yard run. He added a 36-yard scoring run, along with a 12-yard run in the first half. Then, in the second half, he connected on another scoring pass, this one of 30 yards, and was on the receiving end of a 22-yard touchdown pass.
“East Liverpool will line up in some different formations, but they’ll try to get the ball in the hands of No. 5, which is the Carter boy out on the perimeter,” Filberto said. “He’s going to run stretch. He’s going to run jet sweep. They’re going to try to get him on the outside in some way. That’s basically their offense. It is based around getting Carter on the perimeter.”
Like Spencer, Carter had the starring role against the Panthers, rushing for 217 of the Potters’ 290 yards on the ground. In doing so, he scored a school-record six times and his yardage total helped him eclipse the school’s all-time rushing record of 2,251 yards
Carter’s effectiveness last year was held in check somewhat by a muddy Patterson Field in East Liverpool. The Red Riders were down in that one, 28-7, at the half but came back in the second half to pull out a thrilling 29-28 victory.
Junior Nate Davis is the first-year starting quarterback for the Potters, but they use senior Nick Woodyard frequently at the position. When Woodyard is in the game, coach Josh Ludwig likes to use him as a wildcat runner.
“Both of those quarterbacks can throw, but the identity of the East Liverpool football team is that they want to run and they want to get the ball on the perimeter,” said Filberto, whose club still has hopes for a Class AA playoff berth.
The Red Riders moved up one notch to 23rd in the rankings this week after defeating winless Edison. Most years, a 6-4 record will get a team in the playoffs, but a website that is pretty accurate in their predictions indicates the Red Rider playoff hopes are fading. The site, wvtailgatecentral.com, has a predictor feature that indicates even with Weir High winning the final two games and going 6-4, the best they could do would move to 21st in the rankings, five spots out the 16th and final playoff spot.
Of course, that is based on all the teams above them in the rankings winning out, as well, and several of those teams play each other in the final weeks, so there remains hope.
Filberto says that the Potters remind him of Plum, a team that his Red Riders dominated in the statistics but lost by three points on the scoreboard earlier in the season.
He said the Potters use the standard 4-3 alignment on defense, which his offense has seen many times this season. Filberto noted the Potters don’t blitz much, but then he points out the Edison films and scouting report indicated they didn’t blitz much on defense either. But, last Friday they blitzed on nearly every play, he said.
“You never know what you are going to get,” he said. “I always try to find the personality of a team on the films when we’re scouting and East Liverpool primarily wants to run the football. They can do a lot of things like running inside, run the option and they can throw the ball, but what they try to do is get the ball on the perimeter and be an outside football team.”
The teams have played two common opponents in Oak Glen and Edison. The Red Riders were defeated by Oak Glen in the season- opener, 34-14. The Potters lost to Oak Glen, 21-14. The final scores of the games with Edison were similar. East Liverpool beat Edison, 54-7, while the Riders downed the Wildcats by one less point.