Filberto, Weir Expecting Big Things This Year
By RALPH COX
WEIRTON — With a wealth of experience, some outstanding underclassmen and three top transfers, Weir could be in for a very exciting 2018 campaign.
Veteran Red Riders coach Tony Filberto already has a strong group returning from the 7-4 playoff season of a year ago, and it only got stronger. The leading ground gainer in West Virginia last year and one of his top blockers decided to transfer across town from Madonna, and the family of one of the top linebackers in the state moved from Brooke County to Hancock.
Donavan Kirby, who rang up a Madonna record and state-leading total of 2,554 rushing yards, decided to play his senior season for the Red Riders. Also coming over from the Blue Dons to Weir is senior lineman Rob Valenti. Christopher Helms, rated as one of the top linebackers in West Virginia by several prognosticators, will wear the red and back after lettering three years at Brooke.
Filberto already has Tyler Komorowski and Reed Reitter, two all-staters, returning along with letterwinners at just about every position.
However, Filberto has some holes to fill because graduation took several key players, including interior linemen Will Rupert, Zach Martin and Mason Rice along with Caleb Rea, Jaylon Bridges, Tyler Mack, Frank Hudacheck and Josh Taflan.
“Being realistic, this should be a good team,” said Filberto, who is in his 34th year of coaching. “On paper, we have a lot of pieces to the puzzle to be very, very good. Like everybody else, we’re a couple of injuries away from being an average football team.
“Our expectations are high. We feel there are about six good AA teams in West Virginia this year, and we are one of the six. No one knows how that falls, but we’re going to find out in about two months.”
Komorowski, who gained statewide recognition at defensive end last year, is also a top quarterback and will lead the offense again this year. Injured in midseason, Komorowski missed several games but still racked up 604 yards, completing 31-of-62 passes with seven touchdowns. Komorowski recently verbally committed to play at Army.
Sophomore Sebastian Spencer stepped in as signal caller when Komorowski injured his knee at Keyser. He completed 43 of 82 passes for 661 yards and eight scores. He returns as a junior and will be the top backup at quarterback. Yet, as long as Komorowski is healthy, Spencer will return to the slot receiver position. Blessed with speed, Spencer is the reigning 200-meter champion and was second in the 100 as well as getting gold medals in the 400 and 800 relays.
Filberto feels he has plenty of depth at quarterback with junior Brodie McUmar and sophomore Anthony DiMarreis.
Kirby joins an already impressive stable of running backs in Chad Custer, who led the Red Riders last year with 728 yards and 10 touchdowns, junior Ste’von Semedo, a student with blazing speed, junior Drew Curtis and senior Garet Hostutler. Add to that mix of speed and athleticism, Helms and sophomore Logan Walters add strength, and Filberto has a ball carrier for just about any situation.
Filberto also has speed and athleticism on the outside with leading receiver Reitter returning at split end along with Jake McCoy. Reitter hauled in 33 aerials for 640 yards, and McCoy caught nine for 243. Backups at split end will be juniors Elijah Gillette and Zak Wypasek, seniors Quincy Dameron and Deon Trupiano, and sophomore Gage Reitter.
“We’ll have both speed and pass-catching ability on the outside to help keep defenses honest,” Filberto said.
At tight end/Hback will be seniors Reese Wills and Helms.
The offensive line is where the Red Riders may be thin, although the addition of Valenti will ease that concern somewhat. Filberto returns three starters in Mike Zias, Walt O’Neill and Jordan Bruek. All are underclassmen. Zias and O’Neill are juniors, and Brueck is a sophomore that is already getting some feelers from college coaches, according to Filberto. Valenti will be in that rotation as Filberto likes to have interior linemen that are interchangeable.
Filberto is undecided about who will start at center to fill the hole left when Rupert graduated. He’ll have to chose between junior Isaiah Glasure, sophomore Levi Hostuttler and senior Ian Kinney. Filberto said Glasure got some playing time at center last year.
Filberto has been impressed with sophomore Jonathan Howard at guard. Howard is out for football for the first time, and Filberto says he has quickness for a big man. He comes over to the football team after playing on the Red Rider soccer team last year. Junior George Wansack also has caught Filberto’s eye at guard.
“We have some quality guys on the offensive line,” Filberto said. “We don’t care what they can’t do, we care about what they can do. Some are better at run-blocking, others are better pass-blockers. I’ve always believed that to be a good football team you have to have at least seven linemen in the rotation.”
Filberto’s defenders start with four solid linemen led by Komorowski at defensive end. Kirby will move into the other side defensive end.
Brueck and Zias will be the defensive tackles. Backups on the defensive line are juniors Geno Little and Dakota Brown along with Kinney, Wansack and sophomore Logan Walters.
Helms and Curtis, who started at inside linebacker last year, will be the middle backers, while Filberto must decide on the outside linebacker between seniors Xavier Wolverton, Reese Wills and Hostuttler. The rover outside linebacker will be either McCoy, McUmar or Gillette.
Reed Reitter returns as the safety, with DeMatteis and senior Deon Trupiano as backups. Spencer returns at one corner back slot, and the other will be either Dameron, Trupuano, Gillette or McUmar.
Of course, Reed Reitter, who kicked seven field goals in seven tries last season including two from 44 yards, a school record, returns as the kicker and also will handle the punting.