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Ironton heads to Peden; Panthers trip shorter

There was no coin flip, so the Ironton Fighting Tigers and Portsmouth Trojans will have to travel.

The Chesapeake Panthers are traveling again, but at least it's not a five-hour bus ride.

The regional semifinal pairings were announced Sunday by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. Ironton will play Portsmouth at Ohio University's Peden Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Friday while Chesapeake faces Woodsfield Monroe at 7 p.m. Saturday at Circleville Logan Elm.

Last year, Ironton and Portsmouth decided the playoff site with a coin toss. Ironton won the toss and hosted the game.

Portsmouth, which won the playoff game last year 35-27, did not want a coin flip this time and the OHSAA moved the game to Athens.

Peden Stadium, which lowered the field to create more seating, has a new synthetic playing surface although it is not Astroturf. The new surface is not as hot as Astroturf and has a better drainage system.

"It's a nice facility," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said. "You can wear any kind of shoe on the playing surface, there's plenty of seating and parking, and you've got nice locker rooms. I don't mind playing there."

The two teams met at Portsmouth earlier this season with the Trojans winning 25-7.

Chesapeake (8-3) outscored Steubenville Catholic 35-26 Saturday night at Steubenville. The long ride didn't affect the Panthers play, but coach Phil Davis is happy to be playing closer to home.

"We deserve a little break. It's going to be a lot quicker trip," Davis said. "We left early and ate and timed it out and got the bus ride out of us.

"Both of us (Chesapeake and Steubenville) played hard. Our guys answered the bell. If we hadn't, we would have gotten beat. But we made some breaks and took advantage of them."

Gallipolis beat Circleville 35-21 Saturday in a Division III game. The Blue Devils now play Columbus St. Francis DeSales at 7 p.m. Saturday at Circleville High School.