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The Grind Continues

The 2009 schedule hasn’t been easy and it doesn’t get any easier in week 10.

The Ironton Fighting Tigers have fought their way through a grueling schedule and posted a 7-2 record. Ironton’s opponents have a combined 59-32 record or a 65 percent winning percentage.

Included in those numbers is Friday’s opponent the Warren Warriors who are also 7-2. Warren still has an outside chance at qualifying for the Division II playoffs in Region 7 if they beat Ironton in the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League game.

Ironton coach Bob Lutz knows his team has another tough challenge in front of them.

“ They played hard against us last year and they had a lot of kids back, so we knew they would be a good team,” said Lutz.

“When we saw how well they played against Logan (31-15 loss) and they were only down 10-7 at the half. That shows they can play at a higher level. We’ll have our hands full.”

The Warriors have seven returning starters on offense led by 6-foot-1, 220-pound fullback Kaleb Wolfe.

He is joined in the backfield by quarterback Clay Ellenwood (6-2, 200), running back Kyle Pritt (5-10, 185) and wingback Evan Arnold (5-11, 167).

Ellenwood is a returning starter along with split ends Grant Venham (6-3, 210) and Justin Yocum (5-9, 160), guards Jon Arbuckle (6-0, 200) and Brian Hendrix (6-0, 247) and right tackle Cody Alfred (6-5, 220).

The rest of the lineup has Dustin Timberman (6-0, 250) at center and Jeremy Fivecoait (6-2, 185) at tight end.

“They play a lot like us. They had a 19-play drive against Chillicothe, so they can line it up and go toe-to-toe against your defense,” said Lutz.

Wolfe ran for 94 yards on 30 carries last week in the win over Chillicothe and is on the verge of eclipsing the 1,000-yard total for the season.

“He’s a big, strong runner. He cranks it in there,” said Lutz. “They’ve got a veteran line and they’re athletic at the skilled positions. This is a good team.”

Warren likes to use a 4-4 defense that has Alfred and Hendrix at the tackles while Justyn Rohr (5-10, 195) and Fivecoait are the ends. Joey Lane (6-1, 260) and Kaleb Singer (6-1, 242) also play inside.

The inside linebackers are Wolfe and Arbuckle while Justin Hilverding (5-11, 182) and Pritt are on the outside.

The secondary has Venham at free safety with Eric Mason (5-11, 157) and Yocum at the corners.

“They have a lot of the same guys on defense who play offense, so they’re pretty quick and aggressive and they are athletic,” said Lutz. “They held Chillicothe to 126 total yards. They had only 60 on the ground and got five first downs the whole game. It’ll be tough moving the ball on them.”