Nothing#8217;s changed as Ironton meets Westfall again

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 3, 2006

Even though the Westfall Mustangs are 0-2 against the Ironton Fighting Tigers, don’t expect them to change their game plan.

And don’t expect Ironton to change, either.

Westfall will use its spread offense and Ironton will run from the power T-formation when the two teams meet Friday at Westfall in the quarterfinals of the Region 15 Division IV playoffs.

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Ironton has won both meetings. In 2004 at Ironton, the Fighting Tigers won 41-21in the first round. Last season in the second round at Jackson, Ironton claimed a 21-7 victory.

“(Westfall coach Scott Bartholomew) is going to run the same offense and do the same thing he’s done for the last two years against us,” Ironton coach Merril Triplett Jr. said. “He has always liked to throw. He likes to wing it out.”

A couple of other things remain the same for the Mustangs, quarterback Kevin Smith and running back Nick Clark who both started last season.

Smith has been a duel threat this season of equal measure. He is 69 of 136 passing for 946 yards and seven touchdowns while running 130 times for 858 yards and 10 TDs.

“Smith sees the field well. He’s an excellent runner. He’s a lot like the Chillicothe quarterback,” Triplett said.

Clark has rush 127 times for 908 yards and scores 16 touchdowns. Last week, Clark ran 21 times for 170 yards and two scores.

“Clark runs hard. He’s as good of a runner as we’ve seen. When they need tough yards or get down close (to the goal line), he can slam it in there,” Triplett said.

Besides Clark, Seth Hardin has 43 carries for 480 yards and five scores.

The receiving corps is deep, but Smith has a favorite target in Jake Gose who leads the team with 32 receptions for 481 yards and four touchdowns.

Hardin is next with 14 catches for 242 yards and Clark has seen grabs for 70 yards and two TDs.

Ironton (6-4) will use its big offensive line and power running game to try and play keep away with the Mustangs, 10-0 and ranked seventh in the final Associated Press Division IV poll.

“We hope we can control the clock and keep them off the field,” Triplett said.

While the Westfall offense gets most of the attention, Triplett said Ironton cannot overlook their defense which has allowed only 80 points all season and has pitched three shutouts.

Tackle Colton Dutcher is the biggest player on defense at 5-11, 270-pounds. However, right tackle Le Cline at 5-10-225 and linebacker Phil Hartley at 6-foot, 200 are the only other players who tip the scales at 200 or more pounds.

Triplett said the Mustangs lack of size isn’t a detriment to their game.

“Their defense is extremely fast. That’s their strength,” Triplett said. “They do what quick teams do. They run to the football. Their coverages are always good. They slide off blocks well. Their team speed is excellent.”

Although Westfall is unbeaten and Ironton has four losses, Westfall’s opponents have a combined 43-57 record while Ironton’s foes are a combined 59-38.

Ironton play two Div. I teams, four D-2, two D-3 and one each in Divisions 4 and 5. Westfall played one D-2, two D-3, four D-4 and four D-5.