WEIRTON - The Weir boys' basketball program has been a regular visitor to the state tournament in Charleston, but the Red Riders are on a two-year drought.
A return trip could be even harder thanks to the youngest team in Coach Mike Granato's 14-year tenure.
''We have open competition for jobs,'' Granato said. ''It's the type of situation where we have 20 kids in the program, and regardless of age, who can win a spot? It is what it is. We have seven seniors and juniors totals, six sophomores, and seven freshmen.
''I'd love to be able to sit here and say who is going to fill in some of those spots. It's not coach-speak, we are not going to be able to make that decision until after the second scrimmage and go from there. The nice thing about having a young team is you are coaching guys that have their eyes wide open and are eager to learn and give great effort.''
Weir returns three letterwinners in Josh Groves, Dylan Cassiadoro, and Andre Sims.
Groves, a 6-foot-2 swing player, started every game last season.
''Great athlete, exactly what you want in a student-athlete,'' Granato said. ''A team leader and leads by example. It's very safe for me to say he's the best athlete in this building. He exemplifies what you want on and off the court.
''He's going to have to shoot the ball more and shoot the ball well in order for us to be successful.''
Cassiadoro averaged eight points last season and started several games
At 6-5, Sims is the Red Riders' tallest player, and possibly their best offensive player. A hand injury slowed his start in practice.
Senior Shane Davis spent most of his time on the jayvee level last season, but Granato is hoping he can break out with more playing time.
''Shane has been in the program for four years,'' Granato said. ''Shane got some varsity action but not a lot. We are expecting him to step in and grab one of those spots.''
Depth will likely be an issue for the inexperienced club and will depend on how quickly the younger guys come through.
Junior Mitch Viakley (6-1) and sophomores Chris Wood (6-1), Mike Curtis (5-10), and Tom Smith (5-10) should be among those pushing for playing time.
The rest of the roster consists of senior Nathan Masters, junior Kody Knight, and sophomores Vince Gaudio, Dylan Keyes, and Brendan Wade.
''It's an amazing challenge and we aren't used to it,'' Granato said. ''But you've got what you got. I can't go out and recruit another big guy or another guard. What we have done is that we have broken down some things. We won't run as much stuff as we have in the past and shorten the playbook a little bit. We are going to really spend a lot of time on individual player improvement in practice.
''My expectations don't change and they are never going to change. We want to get to Charleston. I don't know why you would be in this business if that wasn't your expectations. That is why we play the schedule that we do.''