Bears prepare for rivalry week
WEIRTON, W.Va. –It’s rivalry week in Hancock County, as Weir High and Oak Glen clash Friday night at Jimmy Carey Stadium, vying for possession of the Carl Hamill Trophy named after the legendary Weir High coach, teacher and dean of boys. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
The teams go into the game with opposite records. The Golden Bears are ranked second in the state Class AA standings this week with a 5-1 mark, while the Red Riders stand at 1-5.
The game has been scheduled as the season opener for both teams for many years, but the coronavirus pandemic canceled the first week of regular season play in West Virginia. When the Ohio high school football teams had their seasons reduced to six regular-season games with an all-in playoff format, it turned out that Weir High and Oak Glen had Ohio teams scheduled this week — Weir with Edison and Oak Glen with Harrison Central. So, they quickly found that they could continue the rivalry that dates back to the opening of Oak Glen in the 1960s.
The teams have met 55 times since 1965, with the Red Riders winning 39 of them. Weir High has retired 11 Hamill Trophies to four for Oak Glen, but the Golden Bears took possession of the hardware with a 34-14 win last year and are looking to notch another victory. It takes three wins in succession to retire one of the trophies.
“Oak Glen is a very good football team,” said Red Rider first-year coach Frank Sisinni, who will get his first taste as head coach of the Hancock County rivalry. “They went deep into the playoffs last year and are looking to go even deeper this year, so we’ll have our work cut out for us.
“I’m well aware of how good they are. Oak Glen is very talented, and coach (Ted) Arneault has them playing good football.”
Arneault has his eye on Weir High and notes that they have shown steady improvement since the start of the season.
“Weir High beat Martins Ferry a couple weeks ago, so that shows they are capable of being dangerous.” he said. “They are well coached with a group of young players that keep battling and improving. schedule, and despite their record have been competing in their games.”
Sisinni noted the Golden Bears are a veteran club that had some injuries in the lone loss to state-ranked Wheeling Park, 28-14.
“That may have altered when they wanted to do in that game, but most of those injured players have returned and Oak Glen looked very good last week in their 61-21 win over Brooke,” he said. “It is no secret that they want to get the ball into the hands of Hunter Patterson and his cousin, Gage Patterson, but they also are very talented at fullback with Paxton Shuman and at quarterback with Nick Chaney. Chaney is a four-year starter.”
On defense, Oak Glen has some pretty good size up front, Sisinni said.
“They have seven seniors on defense and and nine on offense,” he said. “They have some size up front, and their offensive and defensive lines may be the secret to their success.”
On the other side, Arneault said he doesn’t feel his club may have some over confidence because of the disparity in records.
“The loss to Wheeling Park was very humbling to us, and we’re really putting the work in,” he said. “We’re really hitting the film room hard and teaching the basics just like any other team. I think success comes down to blocking and tackling and being sound at the line of scrimmage. We’re getting healthier week by week and trying to concentrate on a single opponent and go 1-0 every week.
“In Weir High, I see a well coached young team with a tough schedule but they have been battling. They had it rough with Keyser in the scrimmage and John Marshall in that first game, but since then they have been competing.
“I think a lot of that is the maturity of Anthony DiMatteis (Weir High quarterback). I think is really settling into his own. They have (Jamari) Bass back from injury. He’s only a sophomore but very talented. They have a strong offensive line. Weir High is very capable of imposing their will, and I like how they call their offense. Their defense has improved. They had the big stop against Martins Ferry in overtime. I think they are headed in the right direction, for sure.”
Sisinni said his keys to victory is finding out where Hunter Patterson is and try to limit his success, along with the others in the talented Oak Glen lineup.
“We want to try to control the ball as much as possible and keep it out of Oak Glen’s hands,” Sisinni said. “We want to limit their snaps, but we also have to do what we do. We’ll go in with a game plan and adjust when we see where we can exploit their 3-3 stack defense.”
On the injury front, Sisinni said sophomore fullback Justin Brueck is lost for the season with a knee injury that will require surgery. Brueck was injured in the Martins Ferry game. Replacing him in the lineup is senior Kasper Moreria, but in the game last week against Wheeling Central, Sisinni used Bass and freshman Corey Lyons in the backfield at the same time.
The Golden Bears go into the game with one of the top offenses in the Ohio Valley, averaging 446.8 yards per game.
Chaney has completed 60 of of 83 passes for 1,013 yard and nine touchdowns with only one interception. That brings his four-year regular-season total to 6,058 passing yards, a school record and one of the top passing careers in the Ohio Valley.
Hunter Patterson is Oak Glen’s leading ground gainer with 399 yards on 35 carries and also the top receiver with 17 catches for 599 yards. Fullback Paxton Shuman has 70 carries and 364 yards.
DiMatteis has has thrown for 735 yards by completing 61 of 105 passes. Lyons is the leading rusher with 356 stripes with 73 carries, while Bass has gained 260 yards on 55 carries.