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Fighting Tigers pit size against Pirates speed, quickness

Size meets speed.

Contrasting styles collide Friday when the Ironton Fighting Tigers travel to play the Wheelersburg Pirates in the high school football season opener.

Ironton will pit its size and power game against the speed and quickness of the Pirates who mix the run with the pass.

Wheelersburg is led by quarterback Dustin Cook and running back Chris Pyles who doubles as the Pirates top linebacker.

“He runs the ball hard and he’s a good linebacker. Their quarterback likes to run the ball and he’s a solid player. He’s scary. He’s their best player,” Triplett said.

Triplett is in his first season at Ironton, but it’s his 19th as a head coach. His past experiences tell him to expect a close game.

“This game will come down to mistakes. If we don’t make mistakes, we’ll be okay. But it’s the first game and it’s scary. We’re going to see a lot of formation,” Triplett said.

While Triplett replaces Lutz, Pirates coach Tony Lewis doesn’t see much difference as he begins his fifth season.

“From what we’ve seen, they don’t look a whole lot different. They seem to be doing the same thing coach (Bob) Lutz did,” Lewis said. “Maybe they’ll get in twins every once in a while or a double slot, but in terms of what they’re doing, it doesn’t seem any different.”

The main offensive threats concerning Lewis are running back Dominic Murphy and quarterback Chad Miller.

“Offensively, they have some weapons. They have some real good running backs. The right side of their line is huge with (Andy) Colegrove and (John) Pemberton. They’re going run behind those guys. Miller has experience and can run the ball and Murphy can fly.”

Although Ironton has some offensive fireworks, the Pirates coach said his biggest concern is the Fighting Tigers size.

“We told our kids you know what to expect. You better snap it up tight. They’re going to come right at you. There are going to be battles within battles. We’ll move people around and do things with our quickness. If we can, we have a chance,” Lewis said.

Ironton has won the last six meetings including all four encounters since Lewis took over as the Pirates coach. Lewis said defense has been the key to Ironton’s success.

“We’ve averaged six points a game the last four years, so we have to figure out what they’re doing,” Lewis said. “And defensively for us, we have to get a lot of guys to the football.”

Ironton leads the overall series 12-3 including the last six meetngs.

The game will be featured on Ohio News Network as the “marquee matchup” which will mean extended highlights and postgame interviews. The highlight show will air at midnight and 9 a.m. Saturday.

ONN lists Delphos St. John’s at Worthington Kilbourne as its televised game Friday.