Ironton’s ride in 2009 could be a historic one

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Ironton Tigers

With five offensive linemen back from a team that finished 8-4 and reached the second round of the playoffs last fall, expectations are high that the 2009 team might continue an Ironton tradition. The Fighting Tigers won state championships in 1979 and 1989 and came within a few minutes of doing the same in 1999. To top it off, head coach Bob Lutz is poised to become Ohio’s all-time winningest coach with 7 wins this season.


Ironton (8-4)

* Players To Watch – FB Keith Wetzel (5-7, 200, Sr.; 125 carries, 612 yards, 14 TD), OL/DL Sam Cramblitt (6-0, 280, Sr), G/LB Chris Warner (5-11, 200), C Taylor Barker (6-0, 285, Sr), OL/DL Robbie Webb (6-3, 240, Jr), T/LB Howie Lucas (6-0, 205, Sr), E/DE Jon Monning (6-0, 175, Sr), OL/DL Brad Spaljaric (6-3, 265, Jr), E/DE Casey Jones (6-3, 240, Sr), LB Erin Edens (6-0, 200, Sr), LB Brian Warner (6-0, 200, Jr), QB/DB Tommy Waginger (5-10, 160, Jr), QB/DB Ethan Preston (5-10, 160, Sr)

* Outlook –
With five offensive linemen back from a team that finished 8-4 and reached the second round of the playoffs last fall, expectations are high that the 2009 team might continue an Ironton tradition. 

The Fighting Tigers won state championships in 1979 and 1989 and came within a few minutes of doing the same in 1999.

To top it off, head coach Bob Lutz is poised to become Ohio’s all-time winningest coach with 7 wins this season.

For the orange and black to reach those lofty goals, they will need to find backfield mates to join returning fullback Keith Wetzel.  Wetzel led the Tigers with 14 touchdowns last fall, and will be the focal point of Ironton’s power-T offense.

Filling the shoes of two-year starter Jon Schweickart (QB) won’t be easy.  Schweickart passed for over 1,000 yards last fall, a rare feet for an Ironton quarterback.  Junior Tommy Waginger and senior Ethan Preston both saw time at quarterback during mop up time, and will battle for the spot this fall.

Battling to join Wetzel in the backfield will be J.P Taylor (5-11, 195, Sr), Paris Birchfield (6-1, 205, Jr), Courtney Lewis (5-7, 155, Jr), and Erin Edens.

But whoever fills the shoes at quarterback and moves into the backfield should have an outstanding offensive line to run behind. Sam Cramblitt, Chris Warner, Taylor Barker, Robbie Webb, and Howie Lucas are all returning starters with Brad Spaljaric and Brian Warner adding depth.

Jon Monning and Casey Jones will both see time at end, while Preston or Waginger could see time at split end depending on which is not playing quarterback.

Defensively, Monning is a two-year starter at end while Jones played their in 2007 (but was replaced by Marshall-bound Mike Lamb in ’08).  Spaljaric and Cramblitt both have experience on the interior line.

Brian Warner and Edens are returning starters in the linebacking corps with Birchfield and Wetzel adding depth.

Preston and Waginger return at safety, and Taylor, Lewis, and Birchfield should all compete for the last two starting spots in the secondary.

The Tigers host Wheelersburg and Nelsonville-York in non-league play providing a ton of potential playoff points and should be the top challenger to defending champion Logan in the SEOAL. 

Schedule

8/28 WHEELERSBURG
9/04 RUSSELL (KY)
9/11 @ GALLIA ACADEMY *
9/18 @ ASHLAND (KY)
9/25 LOGAN *
10/02 CHILLICOTHE *
10/09 @ JACKSON *
10/16 PORTSMOUTH *
10/23 NELSONVILLE-YORK
10/30 @ WARREN *

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