EAST LIVERPOOL - Beset with numerous injuries and defections, it has been a long season for the Weir High football team. With the end in sight, the Red Riders will invade Patterson Field to face the 3-6 Potters Friday seeking that elusive first win of 2012. There is a 7:30 p.m. kickoff scheduled.
Despite losing all nine of its games thus far, the Red Riders are practicing hard and playing hard, according to head coach, Tony Filberto.
"The morale is great. Because of the injuries, we are forced to play with a lot of youth and immaturity, but the enthusiasm remains and that pleases me and the kids should be proud of that," Filberto said. "East Liverpool has won two in a row and are a pretty good football team.
"East Liverpool has size and speed and we are small and young, but we'll put in a couple of plays and if we can play our 'A' game, who knows what is going to happen?"
The Red Riders were plagued with turnovers in a 62-12 loss at Brooke last week. The Riders turned the ball over on the first four possessions and got behind early. By halftime, the Bruins held a 43-0 advantage. The Red Riders finished with 10 fumbles losing half of them.
"Hopefully we can get our confidence back this week and get over those turnovers," Filberto said.
Meanwhile the Potters, under second-year coach, Rick Prescott, seemingly have turned things around a little bit. After going 1-9 in his first season a year ago, the Potters have three wins thus far including back-to-back victories over Oak Glen by 33-13 and Cleveland East Tech by 42-6.
The only win for the Potters in 2011 was a 40-0 victory over Weir High.
The Red Riders have five seniors who played in that game, but one and possibly two of them won't be able to exact revenge this year.
Austin Wolverton has not dressed the past three games and won't Friday night and Daren Baldwin, who has started at fullback the past three games and plays middle linebacker on defense, sprained an ankle in the Brooke game last week. His status for Friday night will be a game-day decision, according to Filberto.
That leaves Filberto with three seniors in this final game, Matt Barnes, Eric Piatt and James Owens.
He said he'll start nine freshmen and several sophomores and juniors against the Potters.
"I believe there is a good future for this group of youngsters," Filberto continued. "We have to go through growing pains this year to get to the point of them being able to mature and get to that future."
Filberto said there is no doubt that East Liverpool will run straight at the youthful Red Riders with a couple of big backs.
"They will come right at us as I would expect them to do with our small size," he said. "However, they are capable of throwing the ball, too."