Ironton, Portsmouth ready to renew rivalry

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2003

It's that game again.

There's no need for extra hype or speeches. It's Ironton vs. Portsmouth week as the two teams meet at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Tanks Memorial Stadium.

Ironton is 24-9-1 against Portsmouth during the Bob Lutz era, but Portsmouth has won the last three and six of the past 10 meetings. Two of those losses have been in the playoffs.

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The Fighting Tigers have a 3-0 record after a big win over Gallipolis last week while Portsmouth (2-1) is coming off a 10-7 loss at Chillicothe.

Despite the setback, Lutz said it doesn't mean Ironton's job will be any easier.

"They've had our number lately," Lutz said. "We'd better be ready to play. They're young, but they have a good ball club and they're getting better every week.

"Portsmouth should have beaten Chillicothe. They had a bad snap on a punt that went for a safety, and they drove to about the Chillicothe 20 and fumbled and Chillicothe runs it back for a touchdown."

Not only did mistakes cost the Trojans, injuries continued to plague Portsmouth. Three starters were missing once again including 6-foot-1, 230-pound junior fullback Aaron Bray and junior wide receiver Justin Nelson (5-9, 150).

Junior tailback Andrew Newman (6-0, 185) ran 25 times for 153 yards against Chillicothe. Bray ran for 104 yards in a season-opening 20-6 win over Chesapeake while Newman added 66 yards on 23 carries.

The quarterback is junior J.R. Glockner (6-0, 170) and his receivers include junior split end Michael Purdy (5-11, 180), senior flanker Billy Payne (6-2, 190), junior tight end Tyler Clifford (6-4, 210) and Nelson.

But the key for the Trojans could be the massive offensive line led by 6-foot-7, 310-pound senior tackle Gerald Cadogan who has verbally committed to Penn State.

The center is Chris Chabot (6-4, 215), the guards David Rammell (6-1, 335) and Kyle Irwin (5-11, 215), and the other tackle is Tyler McGuire (6-3, 230).

"We can't get manhandled up front," Lutz said. "They're backs will crank it in there behind the offensive line and that makes it tough on the defense. Clifford is a heck of a blocker on offense and a good end on defense. He plays well on both sides of the ball."

Clifford, son of Trojans head coach Curt Clifford, is one of only two offensive starters back and four returning defensive players.

Jeff Pendleton (5-9,180) and Randy Phipps (5-9, 170) are the tackles, Michael Hickman (6-4, 220) and Clifford the ends, Justin Skaggs (6-0, 200) and Derek Wales (6-4, 210) the inside linebackers, Brad Higgins (6-0, 190) and Nick Toppins (6-1, 195) the outside linebackers, Payne and Purdy the corners, and Daniel Valentine (5-10, 165) the safety.

"They're a typical Portsmouth defense. They're aggressive and they come after you. They will swarm to the ball," Lutz said.