DeSales biggest stumbling block for Tigers

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 29, 2004

There's only one thing standing between the Ironton Fighting Tigers and an unbeaten regular season.

However, that one "thing" stands very tall.

The Columbus St. Francis DeSales Stallions are the last hurdle as the 9-0 Fighting Tigers seek their 14th unbeaten season and 13th under head coach Bob Lutz.

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DeSales is only 5-4, but the Division III power plays one of the toughest schedules in the state that features four Division I teams and three Division II schools.

In fact, the Stallions can make the Div. III playoffs with a win over Ironton. The Fighting Tigers have already clinched a home game in the Division IV playoffs.

"With the schedule they play, you can't tell how good they are by their record," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said.

"They're just like all the DeSales teams we've played. They have strong, aggressive linemen, good skilled players, and they get after you on defense. They've got a great wrestling program and it shows in their strength and aggressiveness."

Ironton was 9-1 last season and its only loss was 40-0 at DeSales in week No. 9. This year's game is back at DeSales as the two schools switch home dates this season and next year in order to give the Stallions a fourth home date.

"It was tough playing up there last year and it won't be any different this time. But they're going to be a tough team whether it's at home or away, and they'll be tuned up a notch since they need to win to make the playoffs," Lutz said.

Of the Stallions four losses this season, one was 17-0 to Div. III rival Watterson, 24-19 to Cincinnati Moeller and 21-0 to Cincinnati St. Xavier, both Div. I powers. The other was 21-14 in overtime against Worthington Kilbourne to open the season.

Besides the talent factor, Ironton will have to deal with the Stallions depth as well. DeSales has only two players who see action on both sides of the ball.

The offensive line has Matt Williamson (6-0, 220) at center, Trent Sheumaker (5-11, 195) and Tim Heffernam (6-1, 276) at the guards, James Totten (6-3, 225) and Kyle Meyer (5-11, 240) at the tackles, and Ricky Taylor (6-5, 190) at tight end.

The split end is Heath Killilea (6-3, 190) and the flanker A.J. Kaltenbach (5-10, 165).

Matt Mangini (5-10, 185) is the quarterback, Kyrell Crook (5-11, 184) the fullback and Chris Thomas (6-0, 180) the tailbacks.

Also getting some playing time on offense are Cory Dutiel (6-0, 200) at tight end and Chris Rotella (5-9, 146) at split end.

Williamson, the top lineman, switches over to nose guard on defense and is flanked by O'Shay Mallory (6-1, 230) and Alex Stewart (6-3, 263) at the tackles. The outside linebackers or defensive ends are Will Keuchler (6-0, 185) and Zach Slupski (5-10, 210).

The inside linebackers are Justin Moore (5-11, 205) and Michael Lynch (5-10, 195). The secondary has Rotella and Derek Harris (5-10, 180) at the corners with John Rothwell (5-9, 175) and Thomas the safeties.