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Ironton opens at the #039;Burg

They wear orange and black, they have only a couple of players returning, and it's their first game of the season.

The description fits either the Ironton Fighting Tigers or the Wheelersburg Pirates.

Ironton has only two returning starters and the Pirates three as the two teams open the season Friday night at Wheelersburg.

"There's going to be a lot of new faces on the field, and that can mean a lot of things," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said. "Usually with young teams, you see a lot of mistakes. The team which limits its mistakes could have the upper hand."

This year marks the 31st season for Lutz at Ironton and 34th overall. Conversely, Wheelersburg ushers in its new season under rookie coach Tony Lewis in his first season ever as a head coach.

Lewis was an assistant coach the past 10 years at Reitz High School in Evansville, Ind.

Lutz discounts Lewis' inexperience as a factor in Ironton's favor.

"Obviously, he has some coaching experience if he's been an assistant at a big school for 10 years," said Lutz.

"And being a new coach with a new system should be to their benefit. They've got film on us from past years and they know what we're going to do on offense and defense. They have a new offense and defense and we really don't know what they're going to throw at us. That makes it tough for us to prepare."

Lutz said Wheelersburg showed an I-formation and some pro sets offensively while playing a 5-2 and 4-3 in its scrimmage against Jackson.

"Their quarterback (Matt Weaver) is a pretty good athlete. He can throw the ball and he's not afraid to pull it down and take off running," said Lutz. "They like to take advantage of his skills."

Weaver (6-2,170) will throw to several receivers that include senior Cody Piquet (6-0, 180), Cory Chamberlin (5-10, 135), Chris Webb (6-2, 170), and tight end Jacob Wesney (6-2, 185).

The backfield has Jared Madden (6-2, 200) back at fullback with Jonathan Dunham (6-3, 169), the state 400 meter champion, at tailback.

"Madden's a big, strong kid who plays linebacker, too. Dunham sat out the scrimmage with an injury so we haven't had a chance to see him," said Lutz.

The Fighting Tigers lead the series 8-3 and have won the last two including 42-0 in last season's opener at Tanks Memorial Stadium. Jim Walker/The Ironton Tribune