Coal Grove vs. Ironton has a different feel this year
IRONTON — At this time last football season Ironton was getting ready to play Coal Grove and stay in the Ohio Valley Conference title hunt.
But the Hornets dumped the Fighting Tigers, 28-7, on their way to the OVC crown.
Fast forward one year and roles have changed. Ironton has its sights set on the conference championship with Coal Grove coming to visit Tanks Memorial Stadium for a 7 p.m. Friday contest.
Ironton (5-2 overall) is 4-0 in the OVC and tied with Gallia Academy for first place. Coal Grove (4-3) is still in the OVC chase, but two game behind the leaders at 2-2.
The Fighting Tigers have rolled through OVC teams this season with lop-sided wins against Fairland, South Point, Chesapeake and Rock Hill. Remaining teams on the schedule are Coal Grove, Gallia Academy and Portsmouth.
Coal Grove began the season with a win over River Valley and come-from behind victory over Lucasville Valley. A narrow loss to Portsmouth West prefaced a blowout win over South Point. The Hornets were then upset by Chesapeake for its first conference loss of the season. Coal Grove defeated Portsmouth, but then lost to Gallia Academy. Coal Grove’s remaining regular season games are Ironton, Fairland and Rock Hill.
Ironton not only has home field advantage for this game, it also has a more dominant line on both sides of the ball. That leaves Coal Grove having to find room for running backs Evan Holmes and Kyle Sites while protecting quarterback Nate Harmon so he can run but also get passes to Aaron Music.
Coal Grove must also stop Ironton halfback Reid Carrico, the OVC’s second-leading rusher, behind Portsmouth’s Talyn Parker, with 124 carries for 907 yards. Carrico is also a target for quarterback Gage Salyers out of the backfield.
One of the keys for Ironton is not looking ahead to next week’s game with Gallia Academy that will likely decide the OVC championship.