Ironton, Wheelersburg have contrasting looks

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It’s like a game of opposites.

When the Ironton Fighting Tigers host the Wheelersburg Pirates Friday at Tanks Memorial Stadium, it will mark a contrast of styles in the season opener.

Wheelersburg doesn’t have great size, but the Pirates have speed and a wide-open offense. Ironton had good size up front and prefers a power running game.

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But one of the key factors in the game could be experience. Ironton had just two starters back and only a couple of lettermen.

“When you’re this inexperienced, you hope you don’t get that deer in the headlights look. Players have a tendency to stand around and watch instead of playing the game,” said Ironton coach Bob Lutz who returns after a one-year hiatus.

Wheelersburg’s offense is centered around 6-foot-5 senior quarterback Drew Spradlin. A good athlete, Spradlin was a wide receiver until the final three games of last season.

“Spradlin sees the field well and he has a good arm. He’s a good athlete who can run, too,” said Lutz. “It’s tough to get any heat on him. He gets rid of the ball and he can scramble out of there.”

The Pirates have a plethora of receivers for Spradlin including Dustin Cook who began last season as the quarterback.

Other in the receiving corps are Nathan Fannin, Jordan Shankweiler, Matt Jenkins, and tight end J.T. Conley.

“They like to spread the field put pressure on your defense,” said Lutz.

Leading the Pirates ground game is senior running back Craig Stamper

who played at Ironton until this year.

Stamper not only scored Ironton’s first TD on a 35-yard run, he provided the decisive play by kicking a 22-yard field goal with 1:36 to play and gave Ironton a 24-21 win.

“Stamper has a good leg. I’d give them a big advantage in the kicking game,” said Lutz.

Defensively, Lutz said the Pirates aren’t big but the are very effective.

“They’ve got great speed in the secondary and they have some good linebackers. (John) Riepenhoff is a nice player at linebacker.”

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.