Ironton Gridiron Classic features stellar lineup

Published 11:26 pm Sunday, August 20, 2023

By Jim Walker

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The first week of the Ohio high school football season had some great games across the state, but week two will feature 3 great games in one spot.

The second annual Ironton Gridiron Classic will be Saturday, Aug. 26, at Tanks Memorial Stadium and feature three games and six outstanding football programs.

Game One is at 1 p.m. with Clarkson North of Canada taking on Martinsburg which is one of the top programs in the state of West Virginia virtually every year.

The second game matches the No. 66 nationally ranked DeMatha Catholic Stags of Maryland against the Springfield Wildcats which is one of the top Division 1 powers in Ohio.

The finale on the day has the host Ironton Fighting Tigers — Division 5 state runners-up last season — facing a traditionally strong Division 3 power in the Jackson Ironmen.

Ironton rallied to beat Jackson 29-26 last season and used a kickoff return by Ty Perkins as time ran out to beat the Ironmen 13-10 in 2021.

Both Ironton and Jackson suffered a lot of losses due to graduation. Jackson lost 18 including quarterback All-Ohio quarterback Jacob Winters who was 12-of-18 for 208 yards and 4 touchdowns last season in the loss to Ironton.

The Ironman will be looking for senior Cade Wolford (5-10, 200) who ran for 1,251 yards and 16 touchdowns last season and led the team with 20 receptions for 555 yards and 4 TDs.

The other 2 running backs will be junior Nolan Johnson (6-2, 200) and senior Eli Broermann (5-11, 185). The quarterback figures to be junior Tucker Winters (5-10, 180).

The Clarkson Black Bears face the Martinsburg Bulldogs who were 10-3 last season and have a 56-5 record — 24-0 in the league — over the past 5 seasons. The program has won 9 state championships in Class 3-A.

Martinsburg is led by quarterback Murphy Clement who has offers from Old Dominion and Morgan State while defensive lineman Rashad Reid has offers from East Tennessee, Elon, Robert Morris and St. Francis.

Another key player is offensive tackle Wes Hancock who is expected to garner some college offers.

Clarkson North was just 3-6 last year including a 23-3 loss to DeMatha.

As for DeMatha, the Stags were 10-2 last season and finished ranked No. 120 nationally. The Stags are led offensively by junior quarterback Denzel Gardner (6-0, 185) and junior running back Budd Coombs (5-10, 190).

Springfield was 13-2 last season as they lost in the Division 1 state finals 28-14 to Lakewood St. Edward. The Wildcats are led by senior cornerback and Ohio State commit Aaron Scott (6-0, 170) who was a first team All-Ohio player last season that saw him intercept 5 passes.

Springfield outscored opponents 522-195 last season.

Tickets are $20 for all 3 games. Gates will open at 11 a.m. There is no reserve seating.

The Classic is sponsored by Schmidt Family Restaurants which include Wendy’s and Buffalo Wild Wings.