Ironton must contend with moving Blue Devils
It'll be like watching a bunch of water bugs.
Like the little insects, the Gallipolis Blue Devils are not only spread out all over the football field, they're dashing and darting in every direction. And that's on offense AND defense.
The Blue Devils' wide-open offense and stunting, swarming defense has been very production for second-year head coach Matt Bokovitz. Gallipolis was 9-3 last season in making the Division III playoffs and winning a share of the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League.
This season, the Blue Devils have cruised to a 2-0 record by routing Meigs 43-0 and Coal Grove 48-14.
Thus, a task is at hand Friday night for the Ironton Fighting Tigers (2-0) when they play at Gallipolis in a tough early season battle of unbeatens.
The key offensively has been 6-foot, 185-pound senior quarterback Donnie Johnson. Although a starter at slotback last season, Johnson was the backup quarterback and is very familiar with the Gallipolis offense.
"He can run and he can throw, but he might be more dangerous when he runs the ball. That puts a lot of pressure on your defense," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said.
"They spread your defense out and it's not smoke and mirrors. They can throw and run out of all their formations, so you have to defend the field. And when you've got someone like Johnson at quarterback, that puts enormous pressure on the defense. You make one mistake and he's coast-to-coast."
Johnson isn't the only weapon for an offensive comprised of all seniors.
Tailback Mike Davis (5-8,170) has good speed and slotback Andre Geiger (5-9, 170) is somewhat of a clone of Johnson, capable of running or catching the ball but also serving as the backup quarterback.
The other slot is Jake Bodimer (5-8, 160), and the split ends are bookends, Cody Caldwell (6-3, 190) and Tommy Bose (6-3, 190).
"Bodimer and Geiger are both good athletes who can run, and then you have to contend with a couple 6-3 guys out wide who can catch the ball. That's tough on a secondary," Lutz said.
Ironton won't just have its hands full on defense. Gallipolis likes to stunt and move on defense, something that caused problems in the season-opening 22-10 win over Wheelersburg.
The Fighting Tigers trailed 10-0 at the half before adjusting and making its comeback move.
"Gallipolis does a lot of what Wheelersburg did, and they're a better football team. We'll have to be heads-up and ready to play or they'll be in our lap all night," Lutz said.
Senior Ben Doolittle (6-3, 255) plays nose guard and leads six returning starters. Defensive tackle Zach Shawver (6-5, 225) and middle linebacker Dustin Winters (5-11, 210) are the only other 200-pounders on the quick, swarming defensive unit.
The other linebackers in the 5-3 alignment are veterans Steve Kenney (6-0, 180) and Davis. Brian Burton (5-9,180) plays tackle, Tommy Saunders (5-10, 170) and Bodimer the ends, while the secondary has Johnson and Stephen Pullins (5-9, 135) at the corners and Bose or Caldwell at safety.
Bose, who has an excellent leg, does the placekicking.
"They're speed makes them dangerous on all kick returns," Lutz said.