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Orange and black brick wall

There’s more to the Licking Valley Panthers than just points.

Wednesday, November 15, 2000

There’s more to the Licking Valley Panthers than just points.

The 495 points scored for a 41.3 average per game is a big reason why the Panthers are 12-0 heading into Friday’s 7:30 p.m. Division IV Region 15 championship game against the Ironton Fighting Tigers in Lancaster.

But man does not live by bread alone, and teams don’t survive strictly on offense. And Licking Valley has done more than just survive 12 opponents, it has breezed thanks to a tough defense as well as a quick-strike offense.

The Panthers 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," Ironton coach Bob 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 Cody Caughenbaugh (6-2, 185). He is joined by senior Jeremy Wolfe (5-10, 170) in the middle and junior Josh Nethers (5-9, 150) or junior Rusty Redman (6-2, 195) on the right side.

The ends are senior Tanner Lahmers (5-11, 185) and senior Aaron Hartrum (6-3, 235), sophomore Nathan Nethers (5-10, 185) and senior Frank Hale (5-10, 235) are the tackles, senior Wade Kirk (5-9, 150) 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.

"You need some offense to win, but you’d better be able to stop someone if you want to win at the higher level," Lutz said. "We think this team is better offensively than Coshocton, but we think they are better defensively as well."

Ironton (10-1) reached the regional finals with a 27-6 win over previously unbeaten Coshocton which was ranked second in the final Associated Press poll. Licking Valley was ranked third in the final poll.

Lutz also noted that the Panthers will use as many as 15 to 16 players on defense. However, of that group only six play offense and just four of those are starters.

"They’re not real big, so we’ll have a size advantage. But they use a lot of people and keep them fresh and that allows them to stay quick and aggressive," Lutz said.