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Fighting Tigers must slow Johnstown’s offense

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ quarterback Tyler Kratzenberg (5) tries to elude the tackle of an Amanda-Clearcreek defender while teammate Aaron Stephens (88) runs to help by throwing a block. Ironton plays Johnstown-Monroe on Saturday in the Div. IV playoffs at Hamilton Township. (The Ironton Tribune / Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

By JIM WALKER

Tribune Sports Editor

 

This one-two punch is quite a knockout.

The running tandem of tailback Ross Franklin and quarterback Matt Smith have been too much for Johnstown-Monroe opponents this season, and they Johnnies duo will now be the focal point of the Ironton Fighting Tigers’ defense.

Johnstown is 11-0 thanks to an offense that is averaging 477 yards per game in total offense including 419 on the ground. The Johnnies have not scored fewer than 34 points in any game this season.

That explosive offense will be a big challenge for Ironton when the teams meet a 7 p.m. Saturday in the Division IV Region 15 semifinals at Hamilton Township High School.

“We’ve seen good backs and good quarterbacks this year, but I don’t think we’ve seen two backs of their caliber at the same time,” said Ironton coach Bob Lutz.

“The Franklin kid is one of the better runners we’ve face. He runs hard and he can break tackles. We’ve seen quarterbacks who can throw and quarterbacks who can run, but no one that does both as well.”

The 6-foot, 200-pound Franklin and the 6-3, 190-pound Smith have combined for more than 3,700 yards rushing.

Franklin — the Central District offensive player of the year — has 2,577 yards rushing on 241 carries for a 10.7 yards per carry. He has scored an amazing 40 touchdowns running and one receiving.

Smith was a first team all-district. He has 1,199 yards rushing on 130 carries for a 9.22 average and he has scored 17 times. Smith has also hit 29 of 56 passes for 644 yards and five touchdowns.

But there is more to the Johnnies than just Franklin and Smith.

Fullback Adam Carter (5-8, 205) is a good blocker but he also had 324 yards on 64 carries for a 5 yards a carry average. He has scored six times.

While the Johnnies don’t need to throw much, they are effective when they do. Tyler Thompson has 11 catches for 168 yards, Nick Sadinsky has six receptions for 206 yards and two touchdowns, Drew Dague three grabs for 120 yards and a score, Bailey Duncan three catches for 95 yards and a TD and tight end Harley O’Flaherty five receptions for 82 yards.

“You focus on the two backs, but they have a lot more skilled players than them and they can hurt you. It makes it tough to defend,” said Lutz.

The Johnnies’ offensive line has good size with Justin Campbell (6-0, 246) at center, Tim Sayer (6-4, 204) and Dakota Crawford (6-3, 315) the guards, Brandon Hollis (6-4, 278) and Sam Filous (6-4, 226) the tackles, and O’Flaherty (6-1, 204) the tight end.

The slotback is Dague (6-0, 152) while Duncan (5-11, 169), Thompson (5-11, 153) and Sadinsky (6-0, 175) share the split end job.

Ironton (7-4) was able to run for 31 yards last week in a 12-9 win over Amanda-Clearcreek, but Lutz said things might be a lot tougher against the Johnnies.

“They’re not as big up front on defense, but they’re quick, aggressive and they move all over the place. They’re tough to block,” said Lutz.

“They’re a good team. You’re not 11-0 by accident.”

Jordan Pickering (6-0, 251) and Nick San Fillipo (5-9, 256) are the tackles, Joey Dismuke (5-9, 195) and Clayton Bullard (6-3, 186) the ends, and the four linebackers come from Steven Smith (5-9, 137), Sheay Holter (5-9, 186), Corbin Grassman (6-3, 206), Harrison Johnson (5-8, 179) and Daniel Almendinger (5-8, 146).

The secondary has Connor Rehl (5-9, 131) and Thompson at the corners with Sadinsky the safety.

Smith is the punter and Preston Hiles is the placekicker.

Hollis was a first team all-district pick on offense while San Fillipo, Smith and Sadinsky were named to the defensive unit.

 

Ironton Offense

TE Aaron Stephens

Jake Rawlins

LT Steve Sisler

LG Adam Webb

C Codey Jones

RG Gage Roach

RT Dakota Taylor

TE Michael Lawless

QB Tyler Kratzenberg

RB Tyler Hager

FB Trevor White

Tanner Schweickart

RB Dion Brown

 

Ironton Defense

DE Aaron Stephens

DT Dakota Taylor

NG Laron Beach

DT Tommy Saul

DE Skylar Fields

LB Cody Roberts

LB Brandon Leach

Trevor White

CB Michael Lawless

CB Tyler Hager

Tanner Dutey

S Tyler Kratzenberg

S Jake Rawlins

Johnstown Defense

DE Joey Dismuke

DT Jordan Pickering

DT Nick San Fillipo

DE Clayton Bullard

OLB Steven Smith

ILB Harrison Johnson

ILB Sheay Holter

Corbin Grassman

OLB Daniel Almendinger

CB Connor Rehl

CB Tyler Thompson

S Nick Sadinsky

P Matt Smith

 

Johnstown Offense

SE Bailey Duncan

Tyler Thompson

Nick Sadinsky

TE Harley O’Flaherty

LG Dakota Crawford

LT Sam Filous

C Justin Campbell

RG Tim Sayer

RT Brandon Hollis

Slot Drew Dague

QB Matt Smith

FB Adam Carter

TB Ross Franklin

 

Division IV Region 15

Ironton vs. Johnstown-Monroe

Ironton 42 Wheelersburg 13

Ironton 20 Russell, Ky. 14

Ironton 42 Chillicothe 0

Ironton 6 Ashland, Ky. 28

Ironton 0 Jonathan Alder 17

Ironton 6 Gallipolis 0

Ironton 22 Jackson 28

Ironton 16 Col. Hartley 34

Ironton 28 Simon Kenton 22

Ironton 30 Portsmouth 14

Playoffs

Ironton 12 Amanda-Clearcreek 9

Record: 7-4

Ironton stat leaders

Rushing: Tyler Hager 138 carries, 874 yards, 11 TDs; Trevor White 111 carries, 633 yards, 9 TDs; Dion Brown 37 carries, 361 yards, 3 TDs; Tyler Kratzenberg 76 carries, 237 yards, 2 TD.

Passing: Tyler Kratzenberg 29-56-4, 480 yards, 2 TDs.

Receiving: Michael Lawless 7 catches, 130 yards, TD; Trevor White 7 catches, 147 yards; Dion Brown 5 catches, 112 yards, TD; Jake Rawlins 3 catches, 39 yards; Tyler Hager 4 catches, 41 yards.

Semifinals at Hamilton Township

Johnstown 38 Granville 29

Johnstown 34 Heath 19

Johnstown 56 Lakewood 13

Johnstown 35 Centerburg 17

Johnstown 56 Loudonville 35

Johnstown 41 Fredericktown 7

Johnstown 56 Utica 28

Johnstown 56 Danville 15

Johnstown 62 East Knox 20

Johnstown 70 Northridge 0

Playoffs

Johnstown 42 Indian Valley 21

Record: 11-0

Johnstown-Monroe stat leaders

Rushing: Ross Franklin 241 carreis, 2,577 yards, 40 TDs; Matt Smith 130 carries, 1,199 yards, 17 TDs; Adam Carter 64 carries, 324 yards, 6 TDs.

Passing: Matt Smith 29-56-3 644 yards, 5 TDs.

Receiving: Nick Sadinsky 6 catches, 206 yards, 2 TDs: Tyler Thompson 11 catches, 168 yards; Harley O’Flaherty 5 catches, 82 yards; Drew Dague 3 catches, 95 yards, TD.

DEFENSE: Nick San Fillipo 12 sacks; Joey Dismuke 8 sacks; Connor Rehl 3 INT; Tyler Thompson 3 INT; Nick Sadinsky 3 INT; Corbin Grassman 100 tackles; Steven Smith 92 tackles; Dismuke 80 tackles.