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It’s looking better

When a football season begins, teams either get better or they get worse.

Unfortunately for the Ironton Fighting Tigers, the Portsmouth Trojans are getting better.

That’s not the kind of news Ironton coach Bob Lutz wanted to see since his team will host the streaking Trojans Friday in a Southeastern Ohio Athletic League game, the 115th meeting between the schools in the state’s longest running series.

Both teams are 5-2 and 3-1 in the league. The game is also important to the Trojans who could take a giant step toward making the Division IV playoffs with a win over Ironton.

“They’ve improved,” said Lutz. “The big thing about them that concerns me is their ability to score in all phases of the game. They can score with their offense, defense and special teams.”

Since the losses to Wheelersburg and Jackson, the Trojans have beaten Chillicothe, Gallipolis and Warren.

Portsmouth ran back two kickoffs and a punt for scores in beating Gallipolis. They led Chillicothe 27-0 before subbing and the game ended 34-21.

Last week the Trojans handed Warren its first loss with the help of four interceptions and a fumble recovery in a convincing 28-7 victory.

In a 68-14 to Wheelersburg in week three, the Pirates rushed for 445 yards.

Their second loss was 27-26 to Jackson when a field goal on the last play of the game by Jackson was no good, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave the Ironmen a second chance from 15 yards closer and the kick was good.

“Against Wheelersburg the game was close in the first quarter and then it just got away from (Portsmouth) and it began to snowball,” said Lutz. “They had Jackson beat and roughed the kicker.”

The Trojans’ offense is led by quarterback Josh Myers. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound junior was formidable in last week’s win over Warren as he rushed 23 times for 149 yards and a touchdown and also completed 9-of-17 passes for 111 yards.

“Myers is the guy who makes them go,” said Lutz. “He runs as well as he throws. It’s tough to get pressure on him because he runs so well.”

Running back Angelo Jackson (5-8, 185) compliments Myers. Jackson ran 20 times for 81 yards against Warren.

Jackson is joined in the backfield by Jonathan Royster (5-10, 170).

Among the plethora of targets in the receiving corps are Kyle Simpson (5-11, 180), London Malone (5-8, 155), Wayne Evans (5-11, 150) and tight end Collin Staker (6-1, 170).

“They don’t have just one guy they throw to. Myers spreads the ball around well,” said Lutz.

Up front the Trojans have Justin Welch at center (5-8, 212), Brennan Howard (6-1, 270) and Taylor Brown (6-4, 265) at the guards, and Casey Sanders (6-4, 250) and Clay Lewis (6-1, 250) at the tackles.

Defensively Portsmouth uses a 4-4 alignment with an active group of linebackers led by junior Tre Underwood (6-4, 200).

Also inside with Underwood is Jalen Kennedy (5-10, 190) with Isiah Reeves (5-11, 180) and Andrew Gulley (5-10, 185) on the outside.

The tackles are Ronnie Davis (5-8, 185) and Brennan Howard (6-1, 270) and the ends are Jason James (6-1, 195) and J.W. Horsley (6-2, 175).

In the secondary is Myers at safety with Malone and Patrick Underwood (6-2, 170) the corners.

A win would not only locked up a playoff spot for Ironton but it would give Lutz his 360th career win and tie him with Terry Malone for most high school football coaching wins in state history.