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THE HUDDLE: Ironton visits experienced Cavaliers, talented QB Knights

It was a Knights to forget.

Two years ago, the Ironton Fighting Tigers traveled to Chillicothe and were stunned as Cavaliers’ sophomore quarterback Caleb Knights threw for more than 300 yards in a 47-14 win.

Ironton managed to bottle up the Cavaliers’ offense last year, but Knights and Chillicothe seem to be back on track.

The Fighting Tigers (3-2, 1-1) will get a chance see if they can derail Knights and Company again when the two teams return to the scene of the crime Friday night at Chillicothe for a Southeastern Ohio Athletic League game.

“Knights is not only a good quarterback, he’s a good athlete. He was their defensive stopper on the basketball team that won the state championship last year,” said Ironton coach Bob Lutz.

“He has a good arm and he’s accurate. If he needs to run, he can scramble out of there. Logan’s quarterback was the same way and we had trouble with that last week.”

The 6-foot-2, 181-pound Knights has two key receivers in veteran senior Alex Grove (6-0, 176) and Ron Smith (6-3, 191). The Cavaliers also boast a complimentary tandem in the backfield of the speedy Eric Young (5-10, 172) and the powerful Curt Smith (6-1, 272).

The Cavaliers — 3-2 overall and leading the SEOAL at 2-0 — have nine returning starters on offense. Besides Knights, Grow, Ron Smith and Curt Smith, returning are left tackle J.T. Gray (5-10, 299), left guard Kent Parker (6-2, 288), center Danny Russell (6-0, 243), split end Jordan Benson (6-3, 197) and James Vanvoorhis (6-3, 207), and slot back Kevin Scott (5-9, 154).

Senior Tyler Dunkle (6-3, 267) played against Ironton last season and will be at right guard. The right tackle is Brice Clymer (6-0, 233).

“They like to spread the field and use all their athletes,” said Lutz. “It’s a luxury to have a lot of skilled kids who can play. They all run well and catch the ball. It’s tough to throw the ball if you can’t pass block or catch the ball.”

Ironton can expect the Cavaliers to load up defensively to shut down their offense after giving up 34 points last year.

Tyler Vest (6-3, 278) is back at nose guard and is spelled by Jackque Wong (6-0, 292). Curt Smith is back at defensive tackle with Danny Demick (6-0, 237) on the other side. Kyle Ramsey (6-3, 226) also plays inside.

Defensive end Eric Young (5-10,172) is fast and aggressive along with middle linebacker Shay Netter (6-2, 229). Also at end will be either Chris Sopher (5-10, 162) or Isiah Turner (6-0, 181).

“They’re linebackers are pretty active and they like to get pressure on you with their defense. They’re pretty aggressive,” said Lutz.

Grow returns at one of the corners with either Casey Oates (6-1, 171) or Marty Dunn (5-10, 157) on the other side. The safety is sophomore Isaac Beverly (6-1, 158).