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Ironton continues run through poll

First it was Cincinnati Wyoming, then Germantown Valley View, and Saturday night it was Youngstown Cardinal Mooney.

Monday, November 29, 1999

First it was Cincinnati Wyoming, then Germantown Valley View, and Saturday night it was Youngstown Cardinal Mooney. The poll is the Associated Press football poll that ranks high school teams each week. The final poll listed Mooney at No. 1 and the poll champion. Ranked No. 4 was Valley View, and Wyoming was No. 8. All three were ranked, and all three lost to Ironton in the Ohio High School Athletic Association playoffs.

Ironton, 10-3, used its 34-24 upset win over Mooney Saturday to earn a trip to the Division IV state championship game at 3:30 p.m. this Saturday at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium against the Sandusky Perkins Pirates.

Perkins was ranked No. 2 in the final poll. The Pirates beat Oak Harbor for the second time in five weeks, 21-0. Oak Harbor was ranked No. 11 in the final poll.

"We’ve never been big on polls," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said. "It’s something to talk about. Polls are more of a recognition for the teams having a good season. We’ve had our share of experiences with the polls."

Ironton has won three poll championships, 1986, 1988, and 1993. Each time, the Fighting Tigers lost in the playoffs including twice in the state championship game.

The Fighting Tigers opened the playoffs at Wyoming which was ranked No. 8 in the poll and the top-seeded team in the final computer rankings. Ironton was the No. 8 seed and is currently the only No. 8 seeded team in the state finals.

Ironton beat Wyoming 28-14 and then played Cincinnati Indian Hill which was unranked but had beaten Wyoming 28-14 two weeks earlier. The Fighting Tigers erased a 7-0 halftime deficit and won 21-7.

Next came Valley View, the No. 4-ranked team. Valley View had beaten No. 5 Wheelersburg handily the previous week, 36-12. Wheelersburg edged Ironton the first game of the season 10-7.

But Ironton’s history of improving week-to-week was evident again. Down 21-3 at the half, Ironton roared back to stunned Valley View 37-29 and set up the state semifinal game against Mooney.

The trip to the state finals is the eighth for Ironton which won state titles in 1979 and 1989. Perkins is making its first trip ever to the state finals.

"We’ve been in the finals before, but this team hasn’t. It’s a new experience for them, too, so there’s no advantage for either team," said Lutz.

The Fighting Tigers have reached the playoffs 18 times, the third highest total in state playoff history behind only Newark Catholic (22) and Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller (19).