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Ironton to face stiff challenge

If the same poll voters know anything at all the Fighting Tigers have their work cut out for them against the Cardinal Mooney Cardinals Saturday night.

Friday, November 26, 1999

If the same poll voters know anything at all the Fighting Tigers have their work cut out for them against the Cardinal Mooney Cardinals Saturday night.

The Tigers take on the Cardinals at Zanesville High School in the Division IV state semifinal game.

Mooney, 12-1, finished the regular season atop the Ohio High School Athletic Association Associated Press Poll with 11 first place votes.

Ironton, on the other hand, barely crept into the poll with seventeen points. It takes a minimum of 12 points to appear on the poll. The Tigers ended the season ranked 17th.

"We’ve never been that big on the polls," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said. "They do give an indication that a team has had a pretty good season."

Mooney opened the playoffs with 19-16 win over Utica. In the second round it beat Chippewa 61-0 and last week a 27-8 win over Coshocton.

"If you look at the polls, I’d say Mooney deserves to ranked first," Lutz said. "They play one of the toughest schedules in the state, regardless of what division they play in, you can throw the polls out. We know we have to beat a good team."

Beating good teams has become commonplace for the Tigers with upsets coming each and every week. They won the first round of the playoffs with a 28-14 win over Cincinnati Wyoming. And each of the past two rounds they rallied to win. Two weeks ago Ironton trailed Cincinnati Indian Hill at the half only to rally for a 21-7 win and last week the Tigers came from a 21-3 deficit at the half to beat Germantown Valley View 37-29.

Valley View ended the season ranked fourth in the AP poll and were coming off wins at Portsmouth and an easy 36-12 win over Wheelersburg.

Ironton has been ranked number one in the AP poll three times over the years. In 1986, 1988 and 1993. In 1988 and 1993 the Tigers were eliminated in the state championship game.

However, the Fighting Tigers won state championships in both 1979 and 1989 and both times were ranked well below the top spot.

"Their two ‘H’ backs (Jason Harmon and Michael Henry) are pretty tough," Mooney coach Don Bucci said. "We are impressed with their offensive line. They really fire off the ball fast."

In the other semifinal game. Sandusky Perkins, 13-0, will meet Oak Harbor, 12-1.

Sandusky Perkins ended the regular season ranked No. 2 in the Ap poll with 208 points and seven first place votes. Oak Harbour was ranked 11th.