More of the same for Fighting Tigers

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 3, 2006

They have speed, a good quarterback to run a wide-open passing offense plus speedy receivers.

Sound familiar? No, it’s not Chillicothe or Olentangy Liberty or Wheelersburg. It’s the Marietta Tigers. But all of the aforementioned teams seem to be interchangeable.

The Ironton Fighting Tigers will face yet another team that likes to throw the football when the two teams collide Friday at Tanks Memorial Stadium in a Southeastern Ohio Athletic League game.

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The M-Tigers offense is spearheaded by quarterback Mike Groom, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior and running back Justin Estes (5-9, 155).

Groom is 52 of 101 this season for 797 yards and three touchdowns. He has been intercepted five times.

“Their quarterback is their main weapon. They have a pretty good offense,” Ironton coach Merril Triplett Jr. said. “And (Groom) is a good runner, too. We’ll need to get some heat on him. He’s pretty athletic.”

Estes leads Marietta with 525 yards rushing on 165 carries. He had 95 yards last week in a 35-8 rout of Athens.

“He’s a good back. He’s getting better every week,” Triplett said.

Marietta is just 2-3, but the losses were 28-13 to Class AAA Parkersburg (W.Va.) South, 26-12 to unbeaten Cambridge and 17-10 to unbeaten New Philadelphia.

Cambridge is third in its region in Division III of the computer ratings. New Philadelphia leads its region in Division II.

“They’re small, but they’re not a bad team. This is one of their better teams. They have speed,” Triplett said.

There is speed at the receiver positions. Cory Kriechbaum (5-8, 155) leads the team with 28 catches for 410 yards and Sean Munfield (5-11, 150) had nine receptions for 150 yards and a score.

“Kreichbaum can flat catch it. They’re all fast and they can catch it,” Triplett said.

One thing Marietta likes to do on offense is run a no-huddle. Triplett said “you never know how it will effect you until you play the game.”

One thing that has effected Ironton is injuries and the loss of players. The Fighting Tigers (3-2) will be without leading rusher Chad Miller and fullback Tony Murphy this week along with several key backup players.

Miller must sit out after an ejection from last week’s 47-14 loss at Chillicothe. Murphy is nursing a bad ankle.

“We need to get back to basics and cut down on our mistakes. But we’ve had so many people hurt that we can’t get into any rhythm and continuity,” Triplett said.

Marietta had Paul Mircles (6-0, 240) at center, Thomas Beringer (5-7, 215) and Murphy Mitchem (5-10, 215) at the guards, and Jimmey Flannery (6-0, 175) and Stratton Johnson (6-0, 220) at the tackles.

Marietta uses a 5-2 defensive front anchored by massive nose guard Charlie Becker who tips the scales at 6-3, 320.

“He’s pretty quick off the ball,” Triplett said of Becker. “They’re not big on defense, but they hurry to the ball and they gang tackle you. They’re good at putting heat on you.”

The tackles are Beringer and Dan Nicholson (5-8, 210), the ends Ash Bloomingdale (5-11,185) and Flannery and the linebackers Mike Shields (5-8, 160) and John Groom (5-10, 145).

The secondary has Alex Wilson (5-9, 155) and Sam Tuten (5-8, 140) at the corners with Estes and Kreichbaum the safeties.