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Ironton vs. Gallipolis battle of 3-1 teams

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ senior linebacker Cody Roberts (44) puts direct hit on Wheelersburg quarterback Alex Shears (14) during a game earlier this season. Ironton plays at Gallipolis on Friday. (The Ironton Tribune / Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

By JIM WALKER

Tribune Sports Editor

There’s a lot more similar about the Ironton Fighting Tigers and Gallipolis Blue Devils than just their records.

Both teams come into the game 3-1 and they’ve done it with power running games that feature similar formations.

“They’re like to line up and run at you a lot like Russell,” said Ironton coach Bob Lutz. “They’ve got a big, strong fullback and an athletic quarterback who can run or throw. They’ve got some size and they always have good athletes at the skill positions.”

The fullback is senior Brandon Taylor (6-1,180) and the quarterback is sophomore Wade Jarrell (6-0, 150).

While Taylor gets the bulk of the carries, the Blue Devils will change the pace with four different halfbacks: Joel Johnston (5-11, 180), Nick Clagg (5-9, 150), Tyl Warnimont (5-9, 165) and Cody Russell (5-10, 150).

“All their backs run hard and they’re all athletes who can catch the ball,” said Lutz.

When throwing the ball the Blue Devils like flanker Justin Bailey (5-10, 170), tight ends Sidney Saunders (5-9, 215) and Dallas Moss (6-1, 190) as well as Clagg.

“All their receivers have good hands and good speed,” said Lutz.

In a 31-8 win over Marietta last week, the Blue Devils had 300 total yards by halftime and nearly half came through the air.

“Everyone thinks they’re one dimensional, but they can hurt you with the pass if they need to,” said Lutz.

Up front the Blue Devils have Briggs Shoemaker (5-9, 185) at center, Stephen Adkins (6-3, 250) and Caleb Campbell (6-1, 250) at the guards, and Aaron Guisinger (6-3, 320) and Bransen Barr (6-3, 250) at the tackles.

“They’ve got pretty good size and they use it to make their running game go,” said Lutz.

The strength of Gallipolis has been its defense. In their only loss, they held the Athens’ offense in check before losing in the closing minutes 15-10.

Zack Tackett (5-11, 195) and Moss at the ends and Austin Gragg (6-0, 250) and Guisinger at the tackles lead the defense and make it hard for opponents to run the football.

The linebacker corps in the 4-4 alignment includes Bryant Bokovitz (6-0, 220), Caleb Craft (6-2, 165), Drew Young (6-0, 180) and Warnimont.

“They’re a solid group and they move well to the football,” said Lutz.

The secondary is comprised of Clagg at the free safety while Taylor is one corner and Bailey and Russell share the other spot.