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Blue Devils’ speed concern for Ironton

There's speed all over the field.

Literally.

Not only do the Gallipolis Blue Devils have a plethora of speed, the new wide-open offense has the speed demons stationed all over the playing field.

Trying to contain that speed will be the task at hand Friday night as Ironton hosts unbeaten Gallipolis in the Fighting Tigers home opener.

The top speed burners for the Blue Devils are senior tailback Ty Simmons (6-2, 195) and junior slot back Donnie Johnson (6-0, 170).

Simmons was a member of the Gallipolis 4×400 meter relay team that qualified for the state track meet last spring. Ironton coach Bob Lutz said the Gallipolis team speed will be a major challenge for his team.

"There are two things you can't coach, and that's size and speed," Lutz said. "Gallipolis has a lot of speed and that causes a lot of match-up problems. Simmons and Johnson are their go-to guys, but they have a lot of other weapons.

"They like to spread the field and run double slots or three wide-outs to one side and two on the other side and empty the backfield. And their quarterback can throw the ball, so it's an effective offense."

The quarterback is senior Travis McKinness (6-2, 185) who played some last season against Ironton when starter David Brodeur was hurt.

In last week's 56-0 rout of Coal Grove, McKinness competed 2-of-6 for 37 yards and a touchdown. He also ran 22 yards for a score.

Simmons carried just five times but had 53 yards and scored three touchdowns last week. Johnson ran one time for a 46-yard touchdown. He also returned a punt 55 yards for a score and caught a 23-yard TD pass.

"Gallipolis has an excellent kicking games. Simmons and Johnson are a threat to return any kick for a touchdown, and on the other side of the coin they have an excellent kicker and punter," said Lutz.

Tom Bose (6-3, 195) is not only the tight end, but he kicks off to near the goal line and punts nearly 40 yards.

While the offense uses its speed to score quickly, the defense uses its speed to create havoc.

"They come after you. They're not going to sit there," said Lutz. "We've got a bunch of young guys on the offensive line, and a lot of times that kind of movement creates blocking problems."

The Blue Devils offensive lineup includes Brian Caldwell (5-10, 225) at center, Scott Saunders (5-9, 180) and returning starter Ben Doolittle (6-3, 245) at the guards, and Steve Kenney (6-0, 180) and returning starter Nathan King (6-2, 285) at the tackles.

Cody Caldwell (6-2, 180) is the split end with Clark Saunders (6-1, 195) and Cole Haggerty (5-6, 150) both returning at wide receiver.

Defensively, Dustin Hall (5-7,1 65) is back at nose guard, King and Doolittle the tackles, and Haggerty and Keeney the ends.

Bose, Saunders, and Mike Davis (5-7, 165) are the linebackers, Johnson and Caldwell the corners, and Simmons the safety.

Gallipolis is 2-0 after whipping Meigs 34-6 in the season opener. Ironton, also 2-0, beat Wheelersburg 24-9 and South Point 54-7.