Injury-plagued Redmen limp into Ironton game
When South Point attempted an onside kick-off late in last Friday’s game, Rock Hill’s Andrew Clark dove on the ball. But in the process, he broke his collarbone.
And that has been the Redmen 2019 season in a nutshell.
Four-year starting halfback Zak Adkins tore his ACL in the final scrimmage game.
Fullback and defensive end T.J. McGinnis crack his tibia in the first half of the first game and finally returned last week partly because he was drinking a gallon of milk a day as he walked around school in an effort to calcify the bone.
Quarterback Brayden Friend injured his foot in the second game and sat out until last week.
And there have been other injuries that have forced third-year head coach Mark Lutz to fill his lineup with young and inexperienced players.
McGinnis and Friend returned last week and the Redmen ran the football 73 times as they beat the Pointers 26-21 for their first win of the season.
But now comes a trip to Tanks Memorial Stadium to play the Ironton Fighting Tigers who are currently ranked eighth in the Associated Press Division 5 poll and second in the Region 19 computer playoff ratings.
Ironton is 5-1 and 3-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference. Rock Hill sits at 1-5 and 1-2.
“Ironton has a lot of weapons and a lot of good players with size and experience. Those are things we don’t have a lot of right now,” said Lutz.
“We had a problem with depth going into the season and with all the injuries we’ve been forced to play guys who are young and have never been battle tested.”
The offense will need to try and control the clock against Ironton’s defense that has not allowed more than one touchdown in a game this season with the exception of Ashland in which the Tomcats second TD came in overtime in the Fighting Tigers’ only loss, 16-10.
The Redmen will have senior Ethan McClaskey (6-0, 217) at center and four-year starter Tristan Delong (5-10, 311) at right guard. The right tackle is senor Tucker Carpenter (6-4, 280).
The left side lacks experience with sophomore Brice Schob (5-8, 206) at guard, senior T.J. French (5-10, 324) at tackle and junior James Knipp (6-0, 163) at end.
McGinnis (6-2, 254) will play tight end on the right side but will go to fullback in some situations and junior Jacob Schwab (6-2, 240) will fill that spot.
Friend (5-8, 170) will be at quarterback and the halfbacks are the Hankins brothers, senior Logan (5-11, 192) and sophomore Owen (6-2, 190) who began the season as an end.
Junior Hayden Harper (5-11, 180) will share time on offense at fullback with McGinnis.
“We’d like to just grind it out and eat clock, but that’s easier said than done against their defense,” said Lutz.
“They have (Seth) Fosson, (Nate) Cochran and (Junior) Jones up front who are all aggressive, they have four solid linebackers that includes (Reid) Carrico who’s going to Ohio State, and an experienced secondary. We’ve been looking at film for just one weakness and we still haven’t found it.”
The defense has Schwab and Harper at the ends, Carpenter and Schob the tackles, Owen Hankins and McClaskey the inside linebackers, Logan Hankins and Knipp the outside linebackers, Hunter Massie (5-8, 160) and freshman Kordell French (5-8, 130) — the brother of T.J. French — at the corners with sophomore Hunter Blagg (5-8, 134) the safety.
“With their ability to hit the big play or grind it out, our defense is facing its biggest test of the season,” said Lutz.
Kickoff is 7 p.m.