When Weir takes on Roane County in a Class AA first-round playoff game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, it’ll mark the Red Riders’ first postseason appearance since 2018 when they advanced to a state semifinal.
That was the last of six consecutive playoff-qualifying seasons and the final time Weir played in the postseason under previous longtime head coach Tony Filberto, who retired following a 6-4 finish in 2019.
Frank Sisinni took over prior to the 2020 campaign, and after a pair of two-win seasons to start his tenure, Sisinni has helped guide Weir back to the playoffs.
“I inherited these guys and it was a big freshmen class,” Sisinni recalled. “They’re now juniors and we have a really solid group of seniors this year, too. The expectation was to take the next step and let the public and community of Weirton see that the hard work the coaches and everyone has put into this has come to fruition. We’re definitely seeing the rewards that we thought we would see this year.”
Winners of three straight to wrap up the regular season, Weir has been in playoff mode for some time. Having earned the No. 14 seed, the next challenge comes in the form of unbeaten and No. 3 seed Roane County, which won a first-round playoff game a year ago.
For his team to have a chance at pulling the upset, Sisinni believes the Red Riders’ offensive and defensive lines will need to hold their own and Weir must consistently play with a purpose.
“We have to play a physical brand of football. I did get to peak at them a little bit. Week 11, we got to hit the road and scout a little bit, because that was our bye week,” Sisinni said.” To match them in physicality and the brand of football that they’re playing is going to be something we have to step up and do, because I know they are a downhill team. They run the ball and they have some kids that can really carry it. The biggest thing is we’re going to have to match their physical play.”
It will be only Weir’s fifth game this season against an in-state opponent. The Red Riders split their first four, defeating Oak Glen and Brooke and suffering setbacks to John Marshall and Williamstown.
The 14-7 win over Brooke on October 28 allowed the Red Riders to secure their spot in the playoffs in what marked the regular-season finale.
“We’re in year 99 of football, which is really cool. There’s so many history buffs and you hear all the stories about Weir High School from the Bob Kellyes to the Quincy Wilsons. You could go on and on. To take this school and to get back to the playoffs where we need to be is something we’re proud of and I’m definitely proud of,” Sisinni said.
The victory over the Bruins was also the second straight week Weir held its opponent to 7 points. Over their seven victories, the Red Riders have allowed an average of only 11 points and never more than 20.
Now the unit looks to slow a Raiders’ team averaging 42.1 points. Roane’s 421 points were second to only Independence among Class AA teams.
Weir was to make most of the near 175-mile trip to Spencer on Friday and stay the night in a hotel before making its playoff debut under Sisinni.
“This thing bounced around so many different ways and we started going through the map and didn’t know where we would be going,” Sisinni said. “I enjoy getting out and seeing these parts of the state. It’ll be my first time in Spencer. We’ll be staying in Ripley and then we’re going to get up in the morning, have breakfast and go and play a football game we’re really excited about playing.”