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Ironton must stop balanced Riders

On a team that uses eight seniors and three juniors on offense, it’s the two sophomores who may be the most dangerous.

Tuesday, October 31, 2000

On a team that uses eight seniors and three juniors on offense, it’s the two sophomores who may be the most dangerous.

The 11 upperclassmen provide the Martins Ferry Purple Riders with some solid play, but the big plays come from 6-foot-3, 180-pound sophomore quarterback Lance Mirich and 5-11, 170-pound sophomore wide receiver Ty Platt.

That passing tandem will be a big concern for the Ironton Fighting Tigers Friday night at Tanks Memorial Stadium when they host Martins Ferry in the quarterfinals of the Region 15 Division IV playoffs.

"Their quarterback has good size and he can throw the football. He’s a good looking kid for a sophomore," Lutz said. "Platt has some speed. He finds the seem in the defense and he’s capable of going the distance. But he’s not the only guy they throw to. They like to throw to (Chris) Meeker and their tight end (Brad Wink)."

Mirich is 56-of-110 passing for 934 yards and seven touchdowns. He has thrown 11 interceptions.

Platt has a team-high 15 receptions for 136 yards and two touchdown. However, the team leader is Meeker (5-10, 148). The junior flanker has 14 catches for 252 yards and a pair of TDs.

Wink, the 6-4, 200-pound senior tight end, has six grabs for 79 yards, more than 13 yards a reception.

But the Purple Riders don’t just rely on the big play. In fact, the ground game has been a major factor in the team’s 7-3 season.

Junior tailback Joey Danehart (5-8, 162) has rushed for 1,081 yards and scored a team-high nine touchdowns.

Junior fullback Dustin Holt (5-9, 185) has 502 yards rushing on 81 carries for a 6.2 average yards per carry. He also has scored nine touchdowns.

"Danehart and Holt are good backs. They make the passing game work. If you load up the line of scrimmage to stop the run, they’ll burn you with the pass. They’re a well-balanced team," Lutz said.

The Purple Riders offensive line has Steve Yarnevic (6-0, 198) at center, Nick Redinger (6-1, 190) and Jarod McPeek (6-0, 190) at the guards, and Randy Powers (6-1, 235) and Adam Holmes (6-0, 235) at the tackles. All are seniors.

If Ironton (8-1) has any plans of winning, it must maintain a strong running game. In last week’s 28-21 win over Columbus DeSales, the ground attack produced 365 yards with Tyler Scior running for 188 yards and Maurice Murphy 98.

Lutz said the offensive line of Kyle Hankins, Mark Gleichauf, Eli Dalton, Chad Parker, Roman Fry, Redgie Arden, Erique Bacon, and Mark Mains was the difference.

"They dominated up front," Lutz said. "And we’ll need that kind of effort each game if we plan to win in the playoffs. Those guys have got to come ready play and do their job. We need to control the ball and keep their offense off the field."

Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. Gates open at 5:30 p.m.