Westfall shifts gears but finds same results

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 3, 2004

The Westfall Mustangs have something about 2,000 yards.

Last year, Brice Redman ran for 2,000 yards as he was named the Southeast District's offensive player of the year.

Westfall (7-3) has shifted gears this season and traded the running game for passing and the results have been similar.

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The Mustangs will test their passing game against the Ironton Fighting Tigers' secondary when the two teams meet for the first time Friday in the Division IV Region 15 quarterfinals of the Ohio High School Athletic Association playoffs.

Quarterback Wade Bartholomew, a 5-foot-11, 165-pound senior, is the straw that stirs the Mustangs offense. The son of the head coach has completed 135 of 290 passes

(47 percent) for a school-record 2,261 yards and he has thrown for 17 touchdowns with 19 interceptions.

Bartholomew also leads the team in rushing with 912 yards on 118 attempts with 14 rushing TDs.

Last season, Bartholomew passed for 1,327 yards and 14 TDs with 10 interceptions.

"Their quarterback is a pretty good athlete who can run or throw and he can throw going to his right or left," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said. "They lost some games early to bigger schools trying to get their timing down. Once they started clicking with their offense they just took off."

The receiving corps is very productive. Bobby Horney had 35 receptions for 597 yards, Cole Gantz 14 catches for 399 yards, and D.J. Roberts had 26 grabs for 386 yards.

"They've got a lot of good receivers and they like to spread the ball around. It puts a lot of pressure on your secondary," Lutz said.

Although the Mustangs rely mainly on the passing game, they haven't totally disdained the running game. Splitting the backfield job are Jeff Gillispie and Nick Clark, two players with different running styles.

"Gillispie is pretty quick in the open filed and Clark is a hard runner. He's good on short yardage plays," Lutz said.

Veteran Derek Weaver (6-3, 305) is the center with David Jones (6-1, 200) and Jeremy Moore (5-9, 215) the guards and Tyler Dinkins (6-1, 220) and either Daniel Burke (6-0, 203) or Tyler Hegarty (5-10, 188) the tackles.

"They're about our size up front except for one guy (Weaver). He's a load to block on defense, too," Lutz said.

On the defensive side, the Mustangs use 5-3 and 4-2 alignments. Leading the defense are linebackers Donnie Haddix and Jones with 110 and 101 tackles, respectively.

"Haddix is pretty tough inside. He has good reaction and moves to the ball well. All their linebackers move pretty well," Lutz said.

This marks the second straight playoff appearance and third overall for the Mustangs who lost 27-6 to Bellaire in the first round last season.

"Any team with playoff experience has a edge. They'll be more relaxed," Lutz said.

Ironton,9-1, has plenty of playoff experience. The Fighting Tigers are making their 23rd appearance, but only four players started on last year's team.

"They probably have more people back who were in the playoffs than we do," Lutz said. "It'll come down to how well we handle their passing game and if we can move the ball on offense. Our best defense will be our offense. We need to control the line of scrimmage and keep the ball out of their quarterback's hands."

Friday's winner will advance to the regional semifinals next week against the winner of Portsmouth and New Albany.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.