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Fighting Tigers must contend with Belfry#039;s power

Strap it on tight and brace yourself.

Expect things to get physical Friday night when the Belfry Pirates visit Tanks Memorial Stadium to face the Ironton Fighting Tigers.

The Pirates are bringing plenty of size and a power football style as they look to improve on their 7-1 record and sixth-place ranking in the Kentucky Class AA poll.

Leading the way for Belfry is returning halfback Jonah Caudill, a 5-foot-8, 157-pound senior who leads the team in rushing and scoring.

Caudill's running mates in the wishbone and double-wing offense are halfback Doug Howard (5-9, 202) and fullback Gary Childers (5-10, 200), both sophomores. The quarterback is junior Paul Howard (5-9, 155).

Howard started at fullback last season.

"Caudill's a heck of a back. He's got speed and he runs hard even though he's not that big," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said. "(Doug) Howard is a nice runner and both he and Childers have good size."

Oh, yeah. Size. Belfry, as usual, has plenty of it.

Five offensive linemen return and Lutz said the Pirates front line is a cause for great concern.

"They're big, physical and aggressive. They get on you and just shove you out of the way. That causes a lot of problems because if you try to stop the inside game, Caudill burns you outside," Lutz said.

Junior Jordan Clevenger (6-0, 253) is the center, the guards are seniors Jonathon Masters (5-8, 242) and Matt Jones (5-10, 264), and the tackles junior Matt Marcum (6-2, 256) and senior Joey Ramey (5-9, 209).

The tight end is senior Nathan Coleman (5-11, 229) and the split end is David Curry (5-11, 176). Junior Zane Smith (6-2, 222) plays in a double tight end formation.

The Pirates, who have just three defensive starters back, use a traditional 5-2 defensive alignment and rely on their size and aggressiveness.

Junior Phil Varney (5-10, 245) is the nose guard, junior Josh Cullop (6-5, 292) and Clevenger the tackles, and Smith and junior Clifton Hatfield (5-9,171) are the ends.

Doug Howard and Childers are the linebackers, Caudill and senior Derek Farley (5-8, 145) are the corners, and seniors Tyler Bostic (5-10, 170) and Chris Wolford (5-10, 170) are the safeties.

"They're just like all Belfry teams. They're big and strong and make it hard to move the ball. It'll be a battle in there. We like to run it and they like to knock you off the ball," Lutz said.

The game has added importance for Ironton. The Fighting Tigers, 6-2, need a win over the Pirates to guarantee them a postseason playoff berth. A loss would leave Ironton on the bubble.

"We control our own destiny," Lutz said. "If we win, we're in. If we lose, it's in someone else's hands. You never want to depend on someone else, and you never like to go into the playoffs with a loss."

The game will be Senior Night for Ironton. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.