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Fighting Tigers, Pirates brace for season-opening showdown

Forget trying to schedule a breather for an opener.

Things start off tough for both teams as the Ironton Fighting Tigers host the Wheelersburg Pirates Friday night at revamped Tanks Memorial Stadium.

Ironton, 8-3 last season, leads the series with Wheelersburg 9-3, including wins in the past three meetings. The Fighting Tigers won last season 24-9.

"It's a tough game for us to open with, but it's a tough game for them, too. I don't see either team holding an advantage," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said. "You know you're going to make a lot of mistakes because it's the first game. You just have to try to minimize your mistakes and take care of the ball."

Wheelersburg, 5-5 last year, plans a more wide-open attack this season which is a cause of concern for Lutz.

"They pretty much ran the ball off tackle with a couple of options last year. They like to throw the ball this year, so we'll have to defend the field. Our pass defense was suspect last year and we lost three starters. We'll have our hands full," Lutz said.

The Pirates aren't without their question marks. The loss of Matt Weaver, who was voted the Southeast Division V district offensive player of the year, has left a void at the quarterback position.

Junior Tom Kaskey appears to be the new quarterback and Lutz said Ironton was impressed with the new signal caller.

"He has a pretty decent arm and he has some receivers who can catch it. (Kaskey) seems pretty poised for someone who hasn't even shot a gun."

Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.