Klassic Kickoff

Published 4:02 am Thursday, August 27, 2009

Of all the weeks to choose from, you had to pick the first one.

A game between the Ironton Fighting Tigers and Wheelersburg Pirates is almost always a tough game. Imagine having to play it as the season opener.

But once again the two teams get the season started with one of the area’s classic match-ups as Ironton hosts Wheelersburg at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Tanks Memorial Stadium.

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“Wheelersburg is a tough opponent regardless of where they fall on the schedule. But it’s a tough game for them, so you deal with it,” said Ironton coach Bob Lutz.

“The first game of the season is usually a crap shoot anyway. You still don’t know a lot about your team, but you do afterwards.”

Ironton fumbled three times in the first half last season to help Wheelersburg take a 16-7 lead.

The Fighting Tigers battled back in the second half to take a 22-16 lead, but a “Hail Mary” pass from backup quarterback Brandon Schankweiler to 6-foot-5 Andy Stegman in the end zone with 33 seconds left gave Pirates a 23-22 win.

The game will be one of great contrast. The Pirates return most of their team from last year and welcome the return of quarterback Tyler Lang who suffered a knee injury early in the fourth quarter and left the game. He missed the rest of the season.

Ironton returns three interior linemen and one skilled positions, senior fullback Keith Wetzel.

“That’s part of the game. You can’t worry about it. No one is going to feel sorry for you, so you just go out there and play,” said Lutz.

Ironton leads the series 13-5 but Wheelersburg has won the past two meetings including 2006 at Ironton.