• 48°

Pioneers try spread out Ironton

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ cornerback Michael Lawless (26) closes in and makes the tackle on Columbus Hartley running back Ja’Waun Woodley (4) during last week’s game. Ironton hosts Simon Kenton, Ky., on Friday. (The Ironton Tribune / TONY SHOTSKY of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

By JIM WALKER

Tribune Sports Editor

It’s a spread offense in name only. Actually, the spread is more for spreading out the defense.

Simon Kenton has made a living off its spread offense in the past, but now the Pioneers are using the formation to attack teams with their running game.

The Pioneers (2-6) will bring their attack to Tanks Memorial Stadium on Friday to face the Ironton Fighting Tigers.

Ironton (4-4) will be trying to snap a three-game losing streak, all against unbeaten and ranked teams.

“They spread the field, but they’ve got a pretty good running back they like to feature and for good reason,” said Ironton coach Bob Lutz. “He’s quick, he sees the field well and he makes people miss.”

The running back that will be in the sights of the Ironton defense is Nate Powell, a 5-foot-5, 165-pound junior. Powell leads the team with 493 yards on 122 carries and he has scored four touchdowns.

Fullback Trey Pinkleton has 89 yards on 20 carries and two TDs.

Sophomore quarterback Brennan Kuntz (6-1, 163) and his favorite receiver Jared Swanson (5-7, 164) still give the Pioneers a balanced attack.

Kuntz is 50 of 119 for 667 yards and three touchdowns along with five interceptions. Swanson has 17 catches for 347 yards and three scores.

Kuntz has also rushed 94 times for 97 yards and a score.

“They don’t throw it as much as in the past, but their quarterback is a good athlete and he’s pretty accurate,” said Lutz. “(Swanson) is a real good receiver and he’s a good athlete. He played quarterback against Boone County when Kuntz was hurt.”

The Pioneers have excellent size up front with Nick Fredricks (6-2, 256) at center, Johnny Dillon (6-0,272) and Cameron Hansel (6-2, 247) at the guards, Ben Racke (6-2, 252) and Colin Patrick (6-2, 262) at the tackles with Jared Bowling (6-0, 202) and Tate Huesman (6-2, 191) sharing the tight end duties.

Joining Swanson at the receiver position are Tyler Wilke (5-11, 165) and Jacob Huseman (5-10, 145). Wilke is the team’s second leading receiver and Powell is third.

The Pioneers like a 3-5 front on defense with Jake Schneider (5-10, 208) at nose guard flanked by Derek Mills (6-1, 205) and either Brady Gowen (6-1, 195) or Colin Patrick (6-2, 262) at the tackles.

The middle linebacker is Tate Huesman with Derek Iles (5-8, 164) and Bowling at the inside slots. On the outside are Cotton Landrum (5-9, 172) on one side with Mikey Krallman (5-11, 171) and Jaggar Holbrook (6-0, 175) sharing the other side.

The secondary has Ray Webb (6-0, 178) and Swanson at the corners and Pinkleton the safety.

Bowling leads the defense with 72 tackles including 35 solo stops. Tate Huesman has 68 tackles, Mills 56 and Pinkelton 45.

The Pioneers took a 14-7 lead over favored Dixie Heights last week before the Colonels tied the game at the half and then got a pair of scoring passes in the third quarter as they pulled away to a 35-14 win.

Simon Kenton (2-6) is a Class 6-A school, the largest enrollment division in Kentucky. They have 75 players on the roster not including freshmen.

The Pioneers have a solid tradition. They were state runners-up in 2008 and regional finalists the past two seasons.