Ironton faces versatile Westfall

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 14, 2005

That one dimension offense just doubled its options.

Last season, the Westfall Mustangs relied on the passing of quarterback Wade Bartholomew who threw for more than 2,000 yards. But his replacement this season has more to offer.

Kevin Smith, who took over this season for the graduated Bartholomew, has been an all-around threat. He will be the key figure Saturday when the Mustangs (9-2) face the Ironton Fighting Tigers (9-2) in the Division IV Region 15 semifinals at Jackson High School.

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Smith has completed 80 of 151 passes for 858 yards and five touchdowns. He has carried 135 times for 575 yards and nine scores.

&#8220Their quarterback throws the ball pretty well, but he really impresses us as a runner. He has pretty good speed and he runs hard. He's a strong runner,” Ironton coach Bob Lutz said.

Last week, Westfall rallied to beat West Muskingum 21-17 in the Division IV Region 15 quarterfinals, the Mustangs first playoff win in school history.

Trailing 17-14 with 7:40 left, Ben Cline returned a West Muskingum punt down to the 16-yard line.

Smith ran four straight times including the final yard for the go-ahead touchdown with 2:36 to play. Smith finished with 80 yards on 22 carries.

Dane Smith had a 22-yard interception return in the second quarter for Westfall's first touchdown.

The Mustangs spread offense does just that, spread the ball around. Smith throws to seven different receivers. The only returning wide receiver is split end Evan Keller (5-11, 155). Nick Clark, who splits time as a running back and flanker, is the only other returning receiver.

The rest of the receiving corps is comprised of Jack Gose (6-1, 167), Jeff Gillespie (5-7, 169), Marcus Pardon (5-9, 181), Dane Smith (6-0, 160) and Skilar Gibson (5-10, 182) who also doubles as a running back.

&#8220They have good skilled players. You can't focus on any particular player. They spread the ball around effectively,” Lutz said.

Up front, the Mustangs inside five has Daniel Burke (6-1, 203) at center, Ryan Metzger (6-3, 244) and Tyler Dinkins (6-1, 220) at the guards, and Colton Dutcher (6-1, 286) and Dustin Arledge (5-10, 204) at the tackles.

Burke, Metzger and Dinkins are all returning starters.

Defensively, Westfall utilizes a 4-3 alignment but will switch to other fronts.

The ends are Zane Bailey (5-11, 198) and Burke while Metzger, Dinkins and L.E. Cline (5-10, 218) rotate at the tackle spots.

Tyler Rodgers (5-10, 175) is the middle linebacker and flanked by Jeff Gillespie (5-7, 169) and Austin McNeal (6-0, 165).

The secondary has Dane Smith (6-0, 160) and Gibson at the cornerbacks while Kevin Smith, David Jordan (5-8, 175) and Keller playing the safety positions.

&#8220Their defense is overlooked because of their offense, but they get to the ball pretty well. They're not that big, but they have good team speed and quickness,” Lutz said.

The two teams met last season with Ironton winning 41-21 behind a dominating running game. Ironton rushed for 389 yards must had a minus 4 passing.

Bartholomew was 17 of 31 for 163 yards but suffered two interceptions. He led the Mustangs with 53 yards rushing. Clark had the only other rushing attempt for just one yard.

The two teams are very similar in offensive production and defensive strength.

Westfall is averaging 25.6 points per game and has allowed 13.9 per game. Ironton scores at a 30.6 clip and has allowed 16 points per game.