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DeSales brings Ironton more bad news

And if all that wasn’t bad enough, coming to town this week will be the Columbus St.

Wednesday, October 27, 1999

And if all that wasn’t bad enough, coming to town this week will be the Columbus St. Francis DeSales Stallions, a team Ironton coach Bob Lutz called "the best team we’ve played all season."

DeSales is 6-3 in an injury-riddle season of its own. But there’s still plenty of talent available for the Stallions who are riding the heels of back-to-back Division III state championships.

"They’re big, strong, and quick. They’re a heck of a team," said Lutz. "They’ve lost three games, but they play virtually a Division I schedule and they’ve had a lot of injuries. We’ll have our hands full."

Ironton, 6-2, will have its hands full with Charles Gilstrap, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound senior guard who is considered one of the top linemen in the state. He is joined on the front wall by senior center Mark Davis (6-3, 270), junior guard Nic Jacoby (6-1, 170), and senior tackles Kyle Kish (6-2, 235) and Marcello Velasquez (5-11, 225).

DeSales uses a spread set on offense that features a double slot and single setback, but also utilizes variations including trips.

The fullback job is split between senior Jon Ambrose (5-7,172) and junior Ron Lovell (6-2, 186). The slot backs are senior Freddie Darling (5-9, 185) and junior Michael Love (5-9, 150).

The split ends are senior Casey Ward (6-2, 175) and junior Kevin Hazel (6-0, 176). With starting senior quarterback Chris Mahaffey (5-11, 170) injured, junior Tony Borghese (5-10, 140) has taken over the position.

"They don’t have big backs, but they’re just like most DeSales backs: strong, quick, and fast. They like to run the option and their quarterback can throw well enough to keep you honest," said Lutz.

The Stallions use a swarming 4-4 on defense with Gilstrap and Davis the down guards and senior Art Hilson (6-3, 225) and sophomore Scott Wintering (6-2, 180) the ends.

The inside linebackers are senior Vinnie Staropoli (6-0, 205) and Brian Taylor (6-3, 195) with junior Sean Stapleton (5-11, 181) and junior Jason Barnett (5-6, 155) on the outside.

The cornerbacks are junior Matt Berndt (5-9, 160) and Darling while senior Tom Marre (5-10, 170) is the free safety.

"They’ve got the big linemen inside to stop the run and the linebackers are all active and swarm to the ball," Lutz said.

Ironton is 0-4 lifetime against DeSales. The first meeting was 1972 at home, Lutz’s first game as Ironton’s coach, and the Fighting Tigers lost 7-0.

The other three games have been in the playoffs with DeSales winning 23-19 in the 1985 state semifinals, 28-27 in double overtime in 1991, and 13-0 in the regional semifinals in 1994.