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Fighting Tigers size big concern for Licking Valley coach

NEWARK – It’s the big and strong vs.

Thursday, November 16, 2000

NEWARK – It’s the big and strong vs. the fast and quick.

Friday’s Division IV Region 15 championship game is a matchup of the Ironton Fighting Tigers size advantage against the Licking Valley Panthers speed and quickness.

Licking Valley coach Randy Baughman is fully aware of the matchup and he’s hoping for a little help in the form of turnovers.

"The team with the fewest turnovers usually wins. That’s true in any game," Baughman said. "We don’t see them making any (turnovers), but we hope they make a few. We have to get a few breaks."

Licking Valley has been able to capitalize on breaks this season en route to a 12-0 record and third place ranking in the final Associated Press poll. Last week, the Panthers forced 10 fumbles by Utica and rolled to a 33-7 win.

But Ironton’s excessive size concerns Baughman.

"They’re huge. They’re going to outweigh us 50 to 60 pounds per man. That’s definitely a concern," Baughman said. "We had some big plays this season, but we’ve been able to grind it out when we have to. But again, I go back to the face we haven’t seen this kind of size before."

The two teams have seen each other before. Ironton (10-1) won 38-10 in 1988 on the way to the state championship game. Licking Valley won the regional final matchup 19-6 in 1990 only to lose the following week.

Baughman said not much has changed at Ironton except for the personnel.

"They’re a quality football team. You don’t get to playoffs and reach the finals (last year) without being a good team," Baughman said.

"They stick with what they’ve been doing for years. It’s similar to the other teams, they’re just much bigger than the one team we played in 1990."

Another area Licking Valley must contend with is the kicking game. Baughman said "their kicking game is solid and a prime concern. We can’t let them hurt us there."

Licking Valley finished first in the final Region 15 computer rankings and Ironton was second.

Game time Friday is 7:30 p.m.