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Lutz wary of Hornets

Coach Bob Lutz wants to remind his Ironton Fighting Tigers they are off next week, not this Friday.

Tuesday, October 03, 2000

Coach Bob Lutz wants to remind his Ironton Fighting Tigers they are off next week, not this Friday.

Lutz is wary of the lingering sting of last week’s 28-0 loss at Portsmouth carrying over to this week when Ironton hosts the Coal Grove Hornets.

"Any time you’re coming off a loss, you have to be concerned with how your players respond," Lutz said. "We played so poorly last week you have to wonder if you’re going to go back to playing well or if your play is going to regress."

Ironton, 5-1, can’t afford to regress against the Hornets. Last week’s game was worth more 27 computer points and another loss – coupled with the open date – could be costly in the Fighting Tigers bid for a third straight playoff berth and 20th overall.

Coal Grove is 3-2, but two losses were to defending Division V state champion Amanda Clearcreek and Division III power Gallipolis. The Hornets opened the season with a win over Lucasville Valley that snapped the Indians 41-game regular season winning streak.

"They’re a better team than last year, and they’re better now than early in the year because they’ve got (Jason) Adams healthy," Lutz said.

Adams, a 6-foot, 187-pound running back, led the area in rushing last season and ran for 236 yards and four touchdowns in last week’s 34-13 rout of Rock Hill.

"Adams is a hard runner and he runs to daylight. You don’t arm tackle him. If you don’t get a good lick on him, he can bounce off and he has enough speed to go the distance," Lutz said.

The other halfback is Andy Bryant (5-10, 143) who had some big games when Adams was injured. Bryant rushed for nearly 100 yards in less than three quarters in the season-opening win over Lucasville Valley.

Coal Grove rotates three fullbacks: juniors Aaron Gully (5-9, 222) and Shaun Smith (5-8, 154) and sophomore Bill Holton (6-1, 193).

The quarterback is junior J. J. Hunt (5-5, 165).

"Gully is a big, strong kid. He runs well, but he’s valuable to them as a blocker," Lutz said. "The other two kids are good runners. Hunt isn’t very big, but he’s got quick feet and he darts around back there."

The key for the Hornets offense has been a senior-laden offensive line.

The ends are Josh Keaton (6-0, 181) and Clint Pauley (6-2, 200), the tackles Joe Sark (6-3, 202) and Scott Lewis (6-0, 323), and the guards Josh Wheeler (5-6, 217) and Andy Dean (5-10, 187). Rick Wynn (5-10, 234) plays center and is the lone junior across the front wall.

"They’re not as big as Coal Grove teams in the past, but they make up for their lack of size with their strength and quickness off the ball," Lutz said.

While Coal Grove’s strength is considered its running game, the defense has played well in the three wins.

"They’re aggressive up front. They come after you. They’ve done a pretty good job against the run, and running the ball has been our strength," Lutz said.

Pauley and Keaton are the ends, Sark and Wheeler the tackles, and Gully the nose guard. The linebackers are Dean and Holton, the corners Ryan Young (6-4, 160) and Steve Bruce (5-11, 154), the safety Bryant, and Adams is the monster.