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Prep Notebook: Personnel move paying off for Ashland

Sep. 23, 2013 @ 12:30 AM

Coaches make personnel adjustments all the time. Some changes work out, some don't.

Ashland's Tony Love made one on defense and its paying dividends galore. The first-year coach moved sophomore Drew O'Bryan from end to linebacker. The latest payoff came Friday night when the Tomcats beat Ohio River rival Ashland, 42-20, at Ashland's Putnam Stadium where renovations are ongoing.

O'Bryan, who wears No. 2, tracked down Fighting Tigers backs and receivers all night and added a pick-six for a touchdown on the final play of the third period.

"We just found him," Love said. "He had been at defensive end. He has great pursuit so we moved him to linebacker. He knows how to get to the ball."

O'Bryan's TD was set up by teammate James Queen deflecting a pass by Ironton quarterback Tristan Cox. O'Bryan latched onto the ball, made some nifty moves past several Ironton defenders and made it to the end zone where he celebrated with teammates who escorted him in.

"That's a dream night, and he's just a sophomore," Love told Aaron Snyder of The Independent in Ashland. "He's really in his infancy in learning linebacker. He made some plays that broke the game open."

Ironton (2-2) leads the overall series, 44-31-3, but Ashland (3-2) has won three of the past five meetings (all at Putnam Stadium) for the best mark in a five-year span since the early 1970s. Sophomore back Quinton Baker enjoyed a banner night as well, rushing for 228 yards on 11 carries and scoring four times. The 42 points are the most the Tomcats have scored in this series since 1966.

Ashland has a dual threat in quarterback Hunter Prince. The junior, working out of the shotgun, ran 11 times for 64 yards, including a 36-yard scamper on his first carry. With the ground game working, he only threw two passes.

"The great thing is he's capable of throwing," Love said. "Tonight it didn't matter. If we have to throw 20 times to win it, he can do it. He has a lot of reads to make (on the option). He runs the show and does a good job."

Ironton showed some creativity by converting three fourth downs, two on fake punts. Cox didn't line up that deep and sprinted to the right for a potential rugby punt. On one, receiver Hunter Weber was left uncovered and Cox found him for a 32-yard gain. On the second, Cox picked up eight yards on a 4th-and-3.

Ashland returns to action Friday night at Rowan County. Ironton is home against Portsmouth, another rival.

"Across the board we have to be sharper," Ironton coach Mark Vass said. "Portsmouth has talent and speed. We have to improve in every fact and take care of the ball."

ST. HOME HOMECOMING: It's Homecoming week at Huntington St. Joe. Activities begin Monday and wrap up Saturday with a dance. On Friday, the Irish will have a soccer doubleheader at Spring Valley High School. The girls play South Point at 5 p.m. The boys take on Mountain Mission at 8. Seniors who play fall sports will be recognized between games. Tickets for all event are available at the school.

NO. 1: After three games, Fairview was the top rushing team in Kentucky. The Eagles average 423 yards per game.

FIELD TURF FOR IRONTON: In 2014, Ironton High's football team will be playing on field turf at Tanks Memorial Stadium. The Ironton High athletic department got an anonymous donation of approximately $450,000 to help the turf project reach its goal. Part of the money will go to other facilities such as a wooden floor for Conley Sports Center, home of Ironton basketball. Part of the funding for the turf project was tied to a $150,000 grant used for resurfacing of the track. Athletic director Mark LaFon said it's great to have the chance for the school's athletic facilities to match the academic facilities.

CHERTOW VISIT: Ken Chertow, former Huntington High and Penn State wrestling standout and member of the 1988 U.S. Olympic team, will conduct the Weekend Warrior Camp on Saturday and Sunday at Point Pleasant High School. Wrestlers of all ages from all across the region will attend.

At the (old) Huntington High, Chertow won two West Virginia Class AAA championships and two Outstanding Wrestler awards as well. He was a three-time NCAA and Academic All-American at Penn State. He wrestled for the U.S. in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. He has devoted countless hours teaching athletes all across the country.

The camp will consist four primary elements: technique instruction, intense drilling, live wrestling and sport science discussions. That includes mental preparation, nutrition, strength training, goal setting, earning a college scholarship and other important topics. More information available at kenchertow.com or call 814-466-3466.

David Walsh is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or dwalsh@herald-dispatch.com.

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