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Fighting Tigers host Ashland in battle of contrasting styles

Ironton FIghting TIgers’ linebacker Jaxson Pleasant (left) brings down Fairland Dragons’ running back Keedrick Cunningham during last week’s game. Ironton hosts rival Ashland at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Tanks Memorial Stadium. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Ironton FIghting TIgers’ linebacker Jaxson Pleasant (left) brings down Fairland Dragons’ running back Keedrick Cunningham during last week’s game. Ironton hosts rival Ashland at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Tanks Memorial Stadium. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Jim Walker

jim.walker@irontontribune.com

 

Sorry, but in this case opposites do not attract.

The Ironton Fighting Tigers host the Ashland Tomcats on Friday in a game of contrasting styles and personnel.

While both teams are 1-2, Ironton relies on size and strength in a power running game while Ashland is smaller but utilizes its quickness and speed both offensively and defensively.

“They’re a little undersized, but they have good speed and quickness on both sides of the ball,” said Ironton coach Mark Vass. “Their linemen move well. The defensive line has good quickness.”

Ashland’s spread offense begins with sophomore quarterback Braxton Ratliff (6-0, 180) who utilizes its group of running backs and receivers.

“Their quarterback is sophomore but he has a nice arm and he can make a play if the pocket breaks down,” said.

The fullback is senior Noah Roberts (6-3, 205) who is a returning starter. The running backs will be senior Kurtlen Brown (5-9, 175) and junior Aroq Colburn (6-0, 185).

Both Brown and Roberts missed the first two games due to injuries.

Senior Tate Dowdy (5-11, 165) leads the receiving corps. Dowdy played quarterback last season.

The tight end is senior Daniel Heaberlin (6-0, 210) and the other wide receiver is senior Marcus Lazear (5-11, 180).

“The running backs are solid and have good speed. The receivers have speed and can catch the ball, but they also block well. There is no one player you can focus on. They’re pretty balanced,” said Vass.

Up front the Tomcats have Cooper Jordan (6-3, 225) at center, with Brad Hall (5-11, 200) and Brice Wright (6-0, 220) the guards and Michael Burgess (6-3, 280) and T.J. Love (6-2, 210) the tackles.

Jordan is a junior and the other four are seniors. The Tomcats have eight senior starters on offense.

The Tomcats use a 4-3 defensive scheme led by senior defensive tackle Tamir Wright (6-0, 220) and junior middle linebacker Marcus Daniels (5-9, 200).

“They are athletic on defense and they will rotate a bunch of guys at all positions,” said Vass. “They like to sit in that 4-3 and use their speed and quickness to swarm the football.”

The other tackle is junior Willie Cline (5-8, 180) with senior Cody Thompson (6-2, 180) and Jordan the ends.

Joining Daniels in the linebacking corps are senior Jalon Taylor (5-8, 150) and junior Vance Krueger (5-10, 165).

The secondary had Roberts and sophomore Isaac Caines (6-1, 160) the corners with freshman Bryce Carley (5-11, 175) and Colburn the safeties.

The placekicker is Blaine Collins and Dowdy is the punter.

Ironton leads the series 45-32-3 but Ashland won last year 41-0. The home team has won in each of the past eight meetings. The Tomcats last win at Ironton was a come-from-behind 15-10 victory in 1990 when they won the Class 4-A state championship.

Friday’s kickoff is 7:30 p.m.