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Fighting Tigers wary of Chillicothe

Could lightning strike twice on the same team?

Last year the Ironton Fighting Tigers expected to beat the Chillicothe Cavaliers but ended up on the short end of a 17-9 score.

Ironton hopes to correct that Friday as they host the Cavaliers in a Southeastern Ohio Athletic League game.

Ironton (3-2, 1-1) is coming off back-to-back losses to rival Ashland and preseason league favorite Logan and could be ripe for an upset against the Cavaliers who were caught napping last week against Portsmouth in a 34-21 loss.

The Cavaliers (1-4, 0-1) have been the victims of a tough schedule as well. After opening with a 17-9 win over Hamilton Township, they lost to Div. II powerhouse Big Walnut 33-10 after a close first half.

A loss to Division II Wilmington followed before the Cavaliers fell just 14-7 to unbeaten Zanesville.

“They’ve been a victim of their schedule,” said Ironton coach Bob Lutz. “They’ve played well against some good teams and then had a letdown the next week against some teams they thought they could beat.”

The Cavaliers have been adjusting to life after Caleb Knights who was the team’s quarterback the past three seasons.

Casey Oates, a 6-foot-1, 174-pound junior, is the new quarterback and he’s joined in the backfield by fullback Troy Netter (5-10, 160) and tailback Brandon Whittaker (6-0, 182).

Chillicothe has quality receivers on the outside with Isaac Beverly (6-1, 165) and Marty Dunn (5-10, 157) at split end while D.J. Harris (5-9, 154) and Donta Thompson (6-0, 174) share the slotback spot.

Up front the Cavaliers have Danny Demick (6-0, 272) at center, Tyler Holz (5-9, 223) and Ryan Ferguson (5-10, 217) at the guards and J.T. Gray (5-10, 299) and Skylar Mallow (6-0, 244) at the tackles.

Chillicothe has a major weapon in punter and place-kicker Drew Basil who has given a verbal commitment to Ohio State. Basil averages 45 yards on punts and can hit field goals from 50 yards.

On the defensive side, the Cavaliers have Jai Cutter (6-0, 215) at nose guard, Mike Dodge (5-10, 183) and Brandon Curtis (6-6, 301) at the tackles while Dylan Osborne (6-0, 185) and Logan Reynolds(6-0, 194) are the ends.

Shay Netter (6-2, 237) is a standout at linebacker and he is joined by Whitaker.

The secondary has Dunn and Troy Netter (5-10, 160) sharing one cornerback spot with Oates on the other side. The safeties are Kenny Doles (5-10, 163) and Beverly.

“They’ve got good speed and a lot of athletes on defense,” said Lutz. “They don’t have a lot of size, but they use their speed and quickness. Their linebackers are both pretty good.”

The game will be Ironton’s homecoming. Festivities will be held prior to the game at 7 p.m.