• 68°

Jackson’s size presents big challenge for Fighting Tigers

Ironton's Tyler Kratzenberg (5) returns an interception against Jonathan Alder. (The Ironton Tribune / Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Are those linemen or is there an eclipse?

Size is the operative word for the Jackson Ironmen who will try to utilize their girth to push around the Ironton Fighting Tigers when the teams match 5-1 records Friday at Jackson.

The average weight of the five interior linemen and the tight end is 235 pounds.

“Their size is a major concern. You have to worry about them getting on you and just powering the ball down the field,” said Ironton coach Bob Lutz.

Brothers Austin Landrum and Bubba Landrum are the biggest of the linemen. Austin is a 6-foot, 310-pound right tackle while Bubba is a 6-1, 315-pound right guard.

Senior Coleman Kearns (6-0, 255) is the center, senior Ryan Speakman (6-0, 280) the left guard, senior David Fouty (6-4, 235) the left tackle and junior Tyler Jeffers (6-0, 250) the tight end.

The backfield isn’t void of size, either.

The fullback is senior Klay Arthur who tips the scales at 6-2, 215. He leads the Ironmen with 830 yards on 90 carries for a 9.2 average and he’s scored 11 touchdowns.

Junior tailback Drew Ervin (6-0, 220) is another big back and he has 415 yards on 52 carries for an 8.0 average while scoring nine touchdowns.

Quarterback Kip Winchester (6-0, 180) has proven to be a duel threat in the offense. Winchester has 55 carries for 271 yards or 4.9 yards a carry with three TDs. He is 33-of-61 passing for 643 yards and nine touchdowns and three interceptions.

Jackson’s top receiver is junior Ty McNelly (6-0, 170) with 11 receptions for 267 yards and three scores. The split end is senior Aaron Costilow (6-3, 180).

“They have a lot of size and like to power the ball, but they’ve made a lot of big plays, too,” said Lutz.

The Jackson defense isn’t as big, but they have enough size to give Ironton’s offensive line problems.

“They have good size up front, but their linebackers are the key. They move well and get to the ball,” said Lutz.

Tray Valentine (6-1, 26) and Ervin are the outside linebackers with Arthur and Jeffers on the inside.

Fouty and Speakman are the ends with junior O.J. Barr (5-10, 180) and sophomore David Ireland (5-9, 19) are the tackles.

Senior Derrick Meredith (6-0, 185) and sophomore Morgan Landrum (5-10, 185) are the corners with sophomore Alec Osborne (5-7, 150) the safety.

Ironton leads the all-time series 34-6-7 and has played more games in the 7-year history of Alumni Stadium than any other opposing team. Two of those games were in the playoffs.

The Fighting Tigers won 28-7 at Jackson last year but their previous two games against the Ironmen at Alumni Stadium were a 20-14 overtime win in 2007 and a 17-7 loss in 2005.

“We’ve had our troubles there against Jackson,” said Lutz. “We won there last year, but Wilks ran a punt back for a touchdown and we hit a long pass to (Jon) Monnig. We had to battle last year and we’ll have our hands full this time.”

Ironton will have some added troubles this year since they must play the game without leading rusher and cornerback Tres Wilks who was ejected last week in the first quarter. Wilks had 551 yards rushing on 52 carries for a 10.6 average and he has scored eight touchdowns.

Backup halfback Dion Brown has been lost for the season along with tight end and cornerback Michael Lawless, both with shoulder injuries.