New Albany#039;s size big problem for Fighting Tigers

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 14, 2004

Ironton coach Bob Lutz used a four-letter word to describe the New Albany Eagles.


There is no shortage of size with the Eagles, who average 260 pounds across the offensive line.

Email newsletter signup

Ironton will have to contend with the Eagles size and more when the two teams meet at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Division IV Region 15 semifinals at Ohio University.

"Belfry and DeSales were big, but New Albany dwarfs them. They're enormous on the offensive line and they're nearly as big on defense. It'll definitely be a major concern for us," Lutz said.

New Albany's defensive line averages "only" 227 pounds, but in the middle of the defense will be either 6-foot-2, 280-pound Daniel Waddams or 6-2, 260-pound Scott Ward at nose guard. If Ward plays nose guard, Waddams and 6-2, 240 Ben Bruney will be the tackles.

Also in the mix is tackle Anthony Campbell (6-2, 205) with Gentry Zacheis (6-0,180) and Patrick McDonough (6-0, 195) the ends.

"About every team we've played this year has been bigger than us, but none of them to this extent. We'll have to adjust and find some way to move the football," Lutz said.

Both teams comes into the game 10-1. Ironton's only loss came in the final week of the regular season while New Albany lost its opener 24-22 at Johnathan Alder and has won 10 straight.

They have one common opponent. Ironton beat Portsmouth 8-0 in week eight while New Albany knocked off the Trojans 24-7 last week in the opening round of the playoffs.

"We know what kind of a quality team Portsmouth is, so the fact they beat them 24-7 says something about their team," Lutz said.

New Albany is making its first-ever playoff appearance under first-year head coach Mike Golden, the former head coach at Columbus Watterson where he won a state title and finished runner-up twice in Division III. The Eagles were 3-7 two years ago and 5-5 last season.

One of the biggest keys to the Eagles success this season is the kicking game.

Patrick Weldon has had a strong and accurate leg on field goals while Mitch Robertson has returned four kicks for touchdowns including a 38-yarder last week against Portsmouth.

"Their kicking game worries us," Lutz said. "Their philosophy is to play good defense and have good special teams. They're something like a plus 27 in turnover ratio. If you make a mistake, they make you pay for it."

The Eagles power game is led by fullbacks Jacob Gilson and Zacheis with McDonough the halfback. The quarterback is Matt Rippl. Zacheis also plays some halfback.

The main targets in the passing game are split end Mitch Robertson and Weldon at flanker. Rippl also looks for Alex Lybarger and Campbell at tight end.

"They've got good backs who run hard, and their quarterback has a decent arm and has shown good speed when he runs," Lutz said.

Friday's winner advances to the regional finals against the winner of the Martins Ferry vs. Bellaire game Friday at Steubenville. Martins Ferry beat Bellaire 21-7 in the regular season finale.