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Ironton-Ashland rivalry resumes

Two years ago, fans attending the Ironton-Ashland game were treated to the most memorable game in this long, storied rivalry.

Tuesday, September 21, 1999

Two years ago, fans attending the Ironton-Ashland game were treated to the most memorable game in this long, storied rivalry.

Well, the fans who stayed anyway.

Ironton was down 41-28 when a sophomore quarterback named Jimmy Peyton rallied the Fighting Tigers to a pair of touchdown passes during the final two minutes for a thrilling 42-41 win.

Ironton won easily last year, 39-6, but the game returns to Putnam Stadium Friday night in what could be another free-scoring affair.

Ashland is just 1-3, but injuries had stripped the Tomcats of numerous starters. However, the Tomcats have continued to put points on the scoreboard including 28 in a loss to the Kentucky Class 3-A third ranked Lawrence County Bulldogs.

In the Lawrence County game, Ashland led 28-20 midway through the third quarter. But two interception returns for touchdowns plus a long touchdown run in which the Tomcats missed several tackles.

"Ashland was right in the game with Lawrence County and then a couple of big plays did them in and it snowballed from there. It wasn’t a 58-28 game," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said.

"They lost a tough game the first game (16-12 to Raceland) and then lost on the road to a good team last week. They’ll be ready for us."

The Tomcats are coached by Larry Hall who is in his first season. Hall coached at Wheelersburg the past seven years.

"We’re familiar with what coach Hall does, but by the same token he’s familiar with us. He’ll have them ready for us," said Lutz.

Ashland is led by quarterback Derek Cooksey (6-2, 185) and fullback Jamar Edwards (5-10, 183). The halfback is sophomore Arliss Beach (5-11, 160).

Also in the backfield will be Josh Nichols (5-6, 140).

"Cooksey’s the type of quarterback who can frustrate a defense. He can run or pass and he’s a tough, strong runner. Edwards and Beach both have good speed and quickness. They pop through in a hurry and turn short gains into big ones," said Lutz.

The Tomcats have Daniel Ramey (6-4, 228) at center, Ryan Stutler (6-0, 210) (6-1, 254) and Anthony Ferguson (6-1, 201) at the guards, Jarrod Slusher 61, 254) and Travis Johnson (6-5, 284) the tackles, and Chad Jones (5-11, 200) is the tight end.

The split end job goes to Aaron Barnett (5-11, 200) with either Tyler Griffith (5-8,1 56) or Jay Stewart (6-0, 142) the slot back.

Defensively, the Tomcats have Griffith at the nose guard, Johnson and Slusher the tackles, and Ferguson and Chad Jones at the end.

The linebackers are Stutler and Edwards with sophomore Taylor Vaughn (6-0, 178) filling in due to injuries.

The cornerbacks are Kirk Coleman (5-5, 125) and Cooksey while the safety is Beach.

"They’re pretty active defensively and give you a lot of different looks. We’ll have to get after it," said Lutz.

Ironton, which leads the series 33-28-3, has won the last seven meetings and all but four of the 23 times during Lutz’s 28-year tenure. The two teams did not play in 1972, ’73, ’76, and ’77.

Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.