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Sisinni ready for first game as Weir High’s head coach Friday

OPENING UP - Anthony DiMatteis and the Weir High football team open the season Friday at home against John Marshall. -Joe Catullo

WEIRTON — The Weir High football team, under new head coach Frank Sisinni, has been going at it for about 14 weeks off and on, and now are going full tilt this week.

The Red Riders are getting ready to face John Marshall in their 2020 season opener Friday at Jimmy Carey Stadium. The opening kick is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“We’ve had a lot of good practices since the first of August, and our scrimmage went well,” said Sisinni, who has been an assistant coach for 20 years and finally gets his first shot as the grid boss. “We’re in the finale of all those weeks of preparation, and we’re going full tilt now to get ready for John Marshall. We scouted the John Marshall scrimmage with University last weekend, so we know a bit about them.

“They have the identity of being a down hill team. They try to control the line of scrimmage. They’ll throw some passes and go into the spread formation at times.”

Sisinni added that the Monarchs are a fullback/tight end oriented team that will use the play action pass and the spread formation on occasion.

“John Marshall lost a lot of seniors (22), but they still are a senior-dominant team this year with 17 upperclassmen back,” he said. “We’ll have our hands full.”

Sisinni’s Red Riders only have six seniors and five juniors, so they will put a young team on the turf to face the Class AAA foe.

“I think John Marshall coach Jason Willis prides himself in what is team does during the offseason. You could see that in the way his kids played in the scrimmage,” Sisinni said. “We know we have our hands full any time we’re going against a AAA school in the Valley.”

The Monarchs lost their quarterback, Justin Frohnapfel, to graduation. He passed for more than 1,000 yards last year. Sisinni said Willis used two quarterbacks in the scrimmage in senior Derrick Derrow and sophomore Jacob Coffield. Derrow played as a freshman and sat out the last two years, while Coffield was able to learn the system as a reserve last year.

“Likely, coach Willlis isn’t quite sure which quarterback he’ll use,” Sisinni said. “Since we’re not sure which quarterback we’ll see, we will be preparing for both this week.”

During preseason, Willis said he has moved All-OVAC running back Dalton Flowers to wide receiver. Flowers gained 685 yards and scored nine touchdowns last year but also caught 20 passes for 474 yards. He said Alex Burton, who saw action in the backfield last year, will fill the feature role this year.

Meanwhile, Sisinni said things haven’t changed since the preseason. The Red Riders’ strength will be in their veteran line led by fourth-year starting guard Jordan Brueck. Ethan Cummins is at right guard, sophomore Cam Jones and senior Miles Rice are the tackles, and Levi Hostler is the center. All but Jones are veterans on the line.

Senior Anthony DiMatteis will be in his first full season as the starting quarterback. He opened the season as the starting signal caller last year when departed senior Sebastian Spencer was limited because of an injury. DiMatteis also saw plenty of action there and at wide receiver, so he also is a seasoned veteran.

Sophomore Jamari Bass was the starting running back in the final four games of the season last year, and Sisinni said he returns with more size, maturity and speed. Another sophomore, Juston Brueck (Jordan’s brother), will be at fullback, and Sisinni will fill the running back rotation with junior Carson Yobaggy and freshman Corey Lyons. His father was the star running back on the 2005 state champion Red Riders.

“We were fortunate to get Keyser, a perennial playoff team in West Virginia, to come here from the Eastern Panhandle for our scrimmage. They are a good football team again this year and were very physical, which showed our kids, especially the young ones, that things in game situations are a lot different that in practice,” Sisnni said. “We used a lot of our young guys to get them some game experience. We had some successes that didn’t show on the scoreboard, and we had a couple of turnovers that stopped drives, but it was a great learning experience for those young guys.

“Actually, it gave us some opportunity to prepare for our second game against Frankfort because Keyser runs some of the same stuff.”

It has been a tough start for a new coach with the coronavirus pandemic, but Sisinni said he is pleased with the help he has gotten from the senior leadership on the team, along with the Weir High administration, parents and boosters. As his first season at the helm begins, Sisinni said, “All that help certainly has made it a lot easier and I think we’re ready and prepared for a good season of Red Rider football.”

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