• 45°

Rookies face test in 1st tilt

Big game, big crowd, big opener.

Friday, August 24, 2001

Big game, big crowd, big opener. It’s an exciting time for the Ironton Fighting Tigers as they host the Wheelersburg Pirates Friday night. It’s also an anxious time for some of the new faces in the Ironton lineup.

A tough opener is difficult enough on veteran players, but it’s even tougher on the new players in the lineup or on special teams.

"You’re always concerned about how new players will react under game situations," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said. "We’ve got a lot of people playing in key situations who haven’t been there before, and against a good team like Wheelersburg, it’s imperative that we can relax and do our jobs."

Senior Aaron Troxler and junior Matt White are expected to see time at linebacker with White sharing time at fullback with Maurice Murphy.

Senior two-way end Chuck Murnahan could be called on to block and played defense. All three plus senior Matt Blankenship will be on special teams which have played a key role in the previous two meetings between the Fighting Tigers and Pirates.

Ironton was 10-2 last season and reached the Division IV regional finals. But the Fighting Tigers lost all but five offensive and three defensive starters from that team.

Conversely, Wheelersburg has most of its starters returning with 11 seniors starting on offense and eight on defense.

"They’ve got some experience and some speed and quickness, but the biggest thing you have to worry about is the size. They’re a very big team and it could cause us some matchup problems,’ Lutz said.

An overflow crowd is expected for the 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Tanks Memorial Stadium.