Licking Valley has potent offense to unleash

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 14, 2000

Yes, they can score.

Tuesday, November 14, 2000

Yes, they can score. Not only can the Licking Valley Panthers score, they score often. During the regular and postseason, the Panthers have lit up the scoreboard for 495 points, a 41.3 average per game.

Email newsletter signup

And with Licking Valley’s ability to score, the Ironton Fighting Tigers (10-1) find themselves facing yet another offensive machine when the teams collide at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Division IV Region 15 championship game at Lancaster High School.

The least amount of points Licking Valley has scored is 27 the first game of the season, a 27-8 win over Sheridan.

"This is one of the better offensive teams we’ve played," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said. "They’re a better offensive team than Coshocton and they averaged 45 points a game. Licking Valley has a lot more team speed and good skilled players."

The top skilled player is tailback Jared Nethers, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior who rushed for 1,000 yards this season.

Even though Nethers has all the yardage, he did not play in the season finale or the first playoff game due to a sprained ankle. He played sparingly in the 33-7 win over Utica last Friday.

His replacement has been junior Josh Nethers (5-9, 150), Jared’s cousin. Josh Nethers ran for 120 yards on 21 carries and had a pair of touchdowns against Utica.

Panthers senior quarterback Josh Vanover (6-2, 190) rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries.

"Their quarterback is a good athlete," Lutz said. "He’s a big kid who can run. He makes good decisions and he can throw the ball.

"Their fullback (5-10, 185 Casey Brehm) is a good blocker and they have a couple of good linemen, and their tight end (Cody Caughen-baugh) is a good athlete," Lutz said.

Licking Valley is 12-0 and finished third in the Associated Press Division IV poll, but first in Region 15 ahead of Ironton in the computer ratings.

Senior Wade Kirk (5-9,150) plays split end. The flanker is senior Nate Whisner (5-10, 160).

The interior line has senior Seth Wetzel (5-10, 210) at center, junior Matt Booth (5-9, 175) and senior Jason Schibler (5-10, 185) at the guards, and junior Jeremy Walpole (6-0, 275) and senior Aaron Hartrum (6-3, 235) at the tackles.

Hartrum was a special mention all-district choice along with Brehm, Vanover, and placekicker Brandon Haynes.

There’s more to the Panthers than just points. They have allowed just 112 points for a 9.3 average. Of those games, three were shutouts and on three occasions the defense gave up only one touchdown.

"They have people moving around all over the place and the come up the field attacking right at you," Lutz said. "They’ve got a lot of speed and quickness on defense. It’s pretty good. I think it gets overlooked because of the offense.

The quick defensive line and attacking linebackers forced Utica to fumble 10 times, three of which were recovered by Licking Valley.

Heading the linebackers is first team all-district pick Caughenbaugh (6-2, 185). He is joined by senior Jeremy Wolfe (5-10, 170) in the middle and Josh Nethers or junior Rusty Redman (6-2, 195) on the right side.

The ends are senior Tanner Lahmers (5-11, 185) and Hartrum, sophomore Nathan Nethers (5-10, 185) and senior Frank Hale (5-10, 235) are the tackles, Kirk and senior Adam Himes (5-10, 165) are the corners, and Jared Nethers or Whisner at one safety and senior Trevor Hiles (5-9,1 55), the district’s defensive player of the year, on the other side.