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Anything can happen when Brooke, Weir square off

RENEWING A RIVALRY — Weir High’s Anthony DiMatteis, left, and Brooke’s Josh Shorts will lead their teams against one another on Friday. (Photos by Joe Catullo/Andrew Grimm)

WEIRTON — It’s rivalry week again for Weir High and Brooke, as each prepares to face the other Friday night at Brooke Memorial Stadium. The opening kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

While both teams are getting near the end of a lackluster 2020 football campaign with 1-6 records, it goes without saying that the records are thrown out the window, emotions run high and annually members of both teams put everything they have on the football field. That’s what rivalries are all about.

The Brooke Bruins will have another emotion to contend with, as it is senior night and coach Mac McLean has 18 boys that will be putting on the green and gold uniforms and performing on the Brooke Memorial Stadium turf for the last time.

“Emotion is one of the things that concerns me going into this game,” said first-year Weir High coach, Frank Sisinni, who will have some emotions going himself, as he is a Brooke alumnus and got his first coaching job with the Bruins. “In a game like this where the kids know each other so well, sometimes it takes a quarter or two for them to settle down and get the adrenaline under control. The team that does that best will have an advantage.

“This is especially true with our young team. Brooke has a large group of seniors that have played in this game. For some, it will be the fourth time. We will be playing a large group of underclassmen and we really won’t know how that will affect us until Friday night.”

Not so fast, McLean could say.

“We’re down to about 23 really healthy kids, and I too have had to play a number of underclassmen both because of injuries and because we, like Weir, have some talented freshmen and sophomores,” he said. “It has been a disappointing season for us in a lot of ways.

“I see Weir High as a talented, young team, and typically when new coaches take over a program like coach Sisinni has done, it is a building process. But, those young kids now are battle tested. I think it will be dog fight.”

The two teams began playing each other annually with the consolidation of high schools in Brooke County in 1969, celebrating 50 years of competition last year. Through the years, Brooke has won 34 of the 50 games, but the Red Riders have won the last three years, including a 54-0 romp last year.

“Some of my seniors have played against Weir High the last three years without a win,” McLean said. “They want to get this one.

On the other hand, Sisinni said his players keep talking about extending the streak.

“The win last year was our third in a row, which is the longest winning streak by a Weir High team in this series,” said Sisinni, who has spent the last nine years on the Weir High coaching staff as an assistant. “It is important to us to continue the streak. Brooke has had several long winning streaks in the series, the longest being eight games between 2008 and 2016.”

Neither team played a game last week. Brooke prepared and practiced hard for a scheduled game with Wheeling Park that had to be canceled at the last minute due to COVID-19 concerns with the Patriots. The Red Riders had their mandatory scheduled bye week.

“We didn’t do a lot of preparation for Brooke last week, but we do have the advantage of looking at some of the things they do,” Sisinni said. “Hopefully, that advantage will pay off for us.”

Sisinni said his position of being a coach at Weir High and having played and coached at Brooke, his alma mater, is a unique experience.

“I’ve been at Weir for nine years, but every time we see the green and gold, it is the place where I played in high school and got my coaching start,” he said. “It is going to be something special in my heart because this is my first time as head coach going against Brooke. We’re just happy that we’re going to get this one in considering the limitations that has been going on with a lot of teams as far as canceling football games.

“This one will be fun, but we know we have a job at hand to take on a team that has a lot of senior leadership. They like to spread it out and run the ball with their quarterback, Josh Shorts. He’s a big kid. He’s been in their system for a while, and they are very effective when he runs with the football. Their whole offense runs through shorts.”

Sisinni added that Brooke uses a pro style offense where they do some things with their run game like attack off tackle. He said Brooke also gets some good carries from senior Drake Hukill, one of the tailbacks. Also, the Weir High defense needs to be aware of where another senior, Aaron Scipio, is at all times. He said, “He’s been injured so I don’t know his status, but he’s an athlete and can put the ball in the end zone any time he touches it.”

“I’ve got a pretty beat-up football team,” said McLean. “I’ve got a (Class) A football team in terms of total number of players to perform with only 23 players on the board. But, when we got out on the field Monday and were stretching out, the first thing I heard was a kid say, ‘Hey, get your mind right, it is Weir Week.’

“Its a game that everyone looks forward to. It should help us that we unfortunately didn’t play last week. I don’t think we got any of the injured back, but some of those that are playing beat up got a chance to get their injuries cleared up. I know that coach Sisinni is a Brooke guy, and I know the brand of football he coaches. I’m sure Weir High isn’t worried about the records — they want to come down and beat Brooke.”

McLean said that with a number of freshmen playing on both sides that fans could be seeing the Brooke/Weir High matchup of the next two or three years. Both teams have a number of talented freshmen that came off undefeated seasons in 2019 as eighth graders.

ADDING ON

Weir High has scheduled another opponent for Week 10. It will host Charles Town Washington at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

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