• 70°

Ironton to face Kirtland for Division 5 state championship


Jim Walker

Welcome back. It’s been a while.
The Ironton Fighting Tigers routed the West Jefferson Roughriders 49-21 in the Division 5 state semifinals on Saturday to their first trip to the state finals in 20 years.
Ironton will play Kirtland at 8 p.m. next Saturday at Tom Benson’s Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton for the state championship.
The game will pit two teams featuring strong defenses. Ironton (13-1) has allowed just 104 points but only 63 in the regular season with three shutouts.
Kirtland (14-0) has given up 93 points on the season after allowing only 34 in the regular season that included seven shutouts.
Ironton has two state titles — 1979 and 1989 — and the last trip to the state title game was a 16-14 controversial loss to Sandusky Perkins in 1999.
Ironton has qualified for the playoffs 35 times — tied with Cincinnati Moeller for the second most all-time — and has 12th state semifinal appearances. Ironton has a 49-32 overall playoff record to go with the two state titles and semifinal appearances in 1973,75, 79, 82, 85, 88, 89, 92, 93, 95 and 99.
The Hornets began the playoffs with a 38-24 win over Sandy Valley and 38-7 over South Range. They won the regional by beating Akron Manchester 32-7 before the 28-14 win over previously unbeaten Oak Harbor in the state semifinals
Kirtland was the Division 6 state champions last season and the Hornets have four state titles with three runners-up and eight semifinal appearances. This is the Hornets 15th playoff appearance and they have a 42-8 record in the playoffs.
The Hornets had just three starters returning from last season and its unbeaten state title team. They did have 21 lettermen back.
However, Kirtland moved up to Division 5 this season.
Head coach Tiger LaVerde is in his 14th season and has a 173-17 record.
Senior Mike Alfieri (5-10, 230) is a two-way returning starter at offensive and defensive tackle and is one of the team’s strongest players. Junior running back Mason Sullivan (6-0, 195) was All-Ohio last season.
In the other state finals, the Thursday game has the Division 2 title game between top-ranked Massillon (14-0) and Cincinnati La Salle (12-2).
On Friday, the Division 6 game has Anna 13-1) and New Middletown Springfield (14-0) at 10 a.m., Division 4 Mansfield (13-1) and Trotwood-Madison (11-3) a 3 p.m. with Cincinnati Elder (12-2) and Pickerington Central (13-1) in the Division 1 game at 8 p.m.
On Saturday, the Division 7 game matches Marion Local (12-2) and Lucas (12-2) at 10 a.m., Clyde (10-4) and and Licking Valley (14-0) in the Division 3 matchup at 3 p.m. with Ironton and Kirtland in the final game of the state finals.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association offers ticket packages that include all games and Hall of Fame admission.
Single game tickets are $11 online in advance through a participating school, or $15 if not associated with a school, or $17 at the gate.. Fans can purchase tickets online at www.ProFootballHOF.com/tickets