Ironton QB adapts to new system
IRONTON — For the first time since 1971, the Ironton High School football team’s offense won’t feature the full-house T-formation.
Gone is the attack that has produced miles of yardage between the tackles. In its place is the I-formation and some spread offense installed by first-year head coach Trevon Pendleton. Running the new offense will be an adjustment for junior quarterback Gage Salyers (6-foot-1, 185 pounds).
“It’s not a huge change, but it’s a change,” Salyers said. “We still have a heavy backfield.”
Salyers started last year in the Fighting Tigers’ 4-6 season during which injuries took their toll. The strong-armed passer said he improved during the offseason and expects a strong performance from himself and his teammates.
“My throwing game has developed quite a bit,” Salyers said. “I’ve put on 15 pounds and my speed and strength have gotten better.”
Pendleton, a former Portsmouth West assistant who played at Michigan State, said he likes what he’s seen from Salyers.
“He’s picking up the offense really well,” Pendleton said. “He’s making reads. Gage is a tremendous athlete. The thing with him is learning to stay within himself and try not to do too much.”
The Tigers’ performance on offense will greatly depend on Salyers, who is backed up by senior Ayden Barnes (6-1, 160), sophomore Will York (5-11, 170) and freshman Jake Sloan (5-11, 160). Pendleton said all four quarterbacks have their strengths and that Sloan is “very athletic.” Salyers, though, is the key.
“Our offense is looking really good,” Pendleton said. “Once they get the terminology down, we’ll be able to speed it up. They’re really coachable kids and they want to learn. It’s a completely different animal than when we came in on day one.”
Pendleton was hired April 24. He has instilled a strenuous training program that features a considerable amount of running, which has resulted in some lost lunches from some of the players.
“It’s been very hard,” Salyers said. “There has been a lot of physical stuff and running, but I think it will all pay off.”
Ironton opens its season at 7 p.m. Aug. 24 at defending Division V state champion Wheelersburg.