• 43°

Portsmouth’s speed concern for Ironton

The Portsmouth Trojans can be described as having speed to burn.

Tuesday, September 28, 1999

The Portsmouth Trojans can be described as having speed to burn. In fact, the fire would burn for quite a while. This Friday’s clash of powers at Tanks Memorial Stadium will match the power running of the Ironton Fighting Tigers against Portsmouth’s abundance of speed. The speed factor has Ironton coach Bob Lutz heavily concerned.

"We’ve faced some teams in the past with speed, but it’s been a while since we’ve played someone with this much team speed," Lutz said. "All their skilled people are a threat to go the distance at any time."

The skilled players are led by running backs Jo Jo Parker, a sophomore, and Jeremy Hamrick, a junior. Parker, at 5-foot-8, 160-pounds, and Hamrick, at 5-9,160, may lack size but have great speed and quickness. They combined for 200 yards on 18 carries last week.

"Parker not only has speed and quickness, but his balance impresses you. Both he and Hamrick can scoot," Lutz said.

The quarterback usually is senior Greg Estep, a strong-armed senior with a quick, accurate release. But he suffered a broken hand last week and had surgery on his non-throwing hand. He is expected to miss three weeks.

Stepping in to play quarterback is Josiah "Cy" Young, a 6-3, 180-pound junior. Young threw touchdown passes of 62 and 28 yards to Jay Stombock.

"Estep is a heck of a quarterback, but Young throws the ball well. He has a very strong arm and the only thing he lacks is playing time," Lutz said.

The receiving corps has junior tight end Derrick Thompson (6-3, 180), senior Jonah Booker (5-10, 170) and sophomore Bradley Parker (5-8, 140) sharing the flanker spot. Stombock is the tight end.

Besides being a fine receiver, Booker is the top return man for the Trojans. He ran a kickoff back 79 yards for a touchdown last week.

Portsmouth’s speed has helped produce a 4-1 record and 177 total points. The Trojans beat Division V power Amanda-Clearcreek 26-16, fell in a shootout to Div. II Chillicothe 33-27, blanked Div. VI state runner-up Lancaster Fisher Catholic 28-0, routed Waverly 34-14, and crushed Vinton County 64-18 last week.

Both Portsmouth and Ironton, also 4-1, are in Region 16 of Division IV, making a win Friday a key step toward getting a postseason playoff berth.

"Just playing against Portsmouth is big enough, but to have so much riding on the game in terms of playoff implications makes it an even bigger game. This would be a big one if we could get it," said Lutz.

Ironton opened the season with a tough 10-7 loss to Wheelersburg, another Region 16 Div. IV team, but have since routed four straight opponents: 71-6 over South Point, 44-6 over Gallipolis, 63-0 over Dayton Belmont, and 64-6 over Ashland, Ky.

"We’re not sure how good we are. We’re not getting to play a full game, and that could be a problem against Portsmouth. We’re going to have to play four quarters and we’ll see how well we react to playing a full game," Lutz said.

Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.