WEIRTON - Brooke visits Weir at 7 p.m. Friday at Jimmy Carey Stadium and playoffs aren't on the minds of the players, Bragging rights, though, are always on the line when this game rolls around.
Brooke (2-5) is coming off a victory against Parkersburg South that snapped a four-game losing streak, while the Red Riders enter the game after taking a lopsided defeat last week at the hands of undefeated Steubenville Catholic.
"We did well against Central in the statistic department, but didn't put points on the board," Red Riders coach Tony Filberto said." We just didn't take advantage of the opportunities we had, especially early in the game, but I feel we continue to get better every week."
Brooke's Sean Blumette has a similar feeling about his club.
"I felt we did pretty well in that brutal four-game stretch where we played University, Big Red, Wheeling Park and Point Pleasant," Blumette explained. "Like Weir, we are still trying to build up the numbers and are playing a lot of young players. We played a lot of freshmen and sophomores last year and they are beginning to step up.
"It's not the case this season, but this type of rivalry game is a lot like the intensity you have in the playoffs and I think the rivalry teaches the kids and coaches how to treat playing at a high level similar to playoffs.
"The other thing a rivalry like this promotes is respect. Fans know the successes that these two programs have had with all the great players, and I think they have respect for that tradition. I know the kids have respect for each other. They have played in the youth leagues with and against each other over the years and, heck, a good part of Weirton is in Brooke County. The kids are good friends and communicate with each other frequently by texting and social media."
Blumette scouted the Red Riders last Saturday in Steubenville and said he sees great improvement.
"I didn't expect anything less from a Filberto-coached team," he said. "They have some good athletes in (William) Larch, (Jonathan) Rice, (Clarence) Bennett and (Kameron) Davis. They can bust the big play from anywhere on the field. Weir High does a really nice job of getting their athletes involved in the game plan, and they don't quit."
Filberto, who scouted Brooke last week against Parkersburg South, said the Bruins are a big, physical football team.
"They are much bigger than us physically," he explained. "They are 2-5, but they have played a rugged schedule and they are young. They like to run the football with (Nick) Ossman and (Justin) Loughrie and their quarterback, (Aaron) Walker, can throw.
"They have a real good wideout in (Thomas) Cole. He's big (6-foot-5, 215 pounds) and can run. I think he had a couple of touchdowns last week.
"The thing about Brooke is that they want to run, but then use that play action to hurt you with the pass to that big wideout. When you try to stop the run, they throw. They are a pretty good football team despite their record. They have some good kids with good speed."
Defensively, Filberto said Brooke is typical.
"They don't give us anything we haven't seen before, but they are big and physical. They give us a lot of things to deal with," Filberto said. "Offensively, Brooke changed a couple of weeks ago in an "I" formation team with two backs there with the quarterback. Ossman and Loughrie have some size and they like to pound the ball off tackle as the Brooke teams have done for years.
"We certainly have to play better defense than we have done the past two weeks.We need to capitalize on any opportunities we get and we have to finish. We learned what it feels like to win when we won those three games in a row, now we have to learn to finish. That was lacking last week."