• 50°

Ironton must slow down Gallia

Fight fire with fire. Or in the case of the Ironton Fighting Tigers, fight speed with speed.

Ironton will have to utilize its speed to try and match the Gallipolis Blue Devils when the two teams meet Friday at Tanks Memorial Stadium in a key Southeastern Ohio Athletic League game.

Fighting Tigers head coach Merril Triplett Jr. said his team can run, but the Blue Devils may be faster.

“They’re a very skilled team. They have good team speed, probably more than we do,” Triplett said. “This will be a heck of a ball game. It’s a big challenge.”

The top skilled players Ironton’s defense will focus on are 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior wide receiver Jayme Haggerty and junior quarterback Jeff Golden (6-0, 185), both three-year starters.

Haggerty has 44 receptions for 444 yards and six touchdowns in the spread offense. Golden is 77 for 127 passing for 1,064 yards and eight TDs. He has been intercepted just three times.

“Haggerty has a catch on film that was unbelievable. He’s an athlete,” Triplett said. “We have to try and control the ball and play keep-away. We have to keep the ball out of their hands.”

The running game is balanced with Seth Haner (5-11, 185) picking up 247 yards on 51 carries and six scores, Austin King (6-0, 200) 244 yards on 58 tries and five TDs, and Chris McCoy 226 yards on just 28 attempts and a touchdown.

King is injured and not expected to play.

Haggerty also had 188 yards rushing on 23 carries with a score. Golden has scrambled for 110 yards on 62 rushes and has scored four times.

Up front are center David Rumley (6-2, 230), guards Phil Bokovitz (6-1, 270), son of head coach Matt Bokovitz, and Matt Beaver (6-2, 275), and tackles Jacob Duty (6-0, 280) and Sam Shawver (6-0, 240).

“Bokovitz is their best lineman. He’s really strong. Rumley is a good, hard-nosed kid,” Triplett said.

The Blue Devils give a 5-3 look on defense but jump into other fronts.

Bokovitz is the nose guard with Shawver and Duty the ends. Rumley is the middle linebacker and is flanked by Jeff Howell (5-11, 175) and Haner.

The outside backers are Rusty Ferguson (5-9, 175) and King. Cody Noble (5-10, 165) and Haggerty are the corners and McCoy the safety.

In the topsy-turvy SEOAL, determining the better team has been difficult.

Gallipolis lost to Chillicothe 38-33 while Ironton fell 47-14 to the same Cavaliers team. However, Ironton routed Jackson 48-20 and Jackson rolled past Chillicothe 42-15.

The Blue Devils play Jackson next week.

Both teams are

4-2 coming into the game overall. Ironton is 2-1 in the league and Gallipolis 1-2.

Both teams need wins to keep their playoff and league title hopes alive. After Jackson, Gallipolis ends the season with Warren and Athens, two teams at the bottom of the standings.

Ironton must still play Logan, Portsmouth and Zanesville. Logan beat Gallipolis 31-26 while the Blue Devils held off Portsmouth 27-20.

“This is a big game for us,” Triplett said.