Fighting Tigers face Bellaire in Zanesille

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 3, 2003

It's the Ironton Fighting Tigers vs. the Bellaire Big Red at that midway neutral point of … Zanesville?

Despite being the No. 1 seed in the region, Ironton will make a three-plus hour trip to Zanesville to meet Bellaire, which is about an hour from the game site.

The game matches Ironton (10-1) against Bellaire (9-2) in the Division IV Region 15 semifinals. The winner advances to play the survivor of the Martins Ferry (9-2) and Coshocton (10-1) game that will be played in Dover.

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"The (Ohio High School Athletic Association) said it couldn't find a school in the Columbus area that was willing to host the game," Ironton athletic director Terry Parker said. "Hopefully, if we win, the state will cut us a break on the next game."

Ironton head coach Bob Lutz downplayed the lopsided travel distance.

"It doesn't matter what we think, the game's going to be in Zanesville. We're just going to prepare for Bellaire and show up Saturday. There are a lot of teams who lost last week that would gladly trade places with us," Lutz said.

Ironton and Bellaire have met eight times with the Big Red holding a 4-3-1 edge in the series. Bellaire won the last two meetings 41-7 in 1995 and 33-0 in 1996.

The Fighting Tigers last visit to Zanesville was in the 1999 state semifinals that resulted in a 34-24 win over Youngstown Cardinal Mooney.