IRONTON - Ironton proved itself Friday night.
During an offseason filled with talk of a return to prominence and dominance, the Fighting Tigers built high expectations among their already rabid fan base. They also raised the eyebrows of others who figured Ironton would be better than last year's 6-5 record, but wondered would it be that much better.
The Tigers were impressive in a season-opening 30-6, victory over Wheelersburg at Tanks Memorial Stadium, where more than 10,000 people watched Ironton break an eight-game losing streak to the Pirates. Had the Tigers, who led just 3-0 at halftime, flopped in the opener, guffaws would have been loud and hearty. Ironton made sure there was no chance of that.
The Tigers defense was impressive, intercepting two passes and slowing the run efficiently. Wheelersburg gained 223 yards, but 67 were on one play. The offense was punishing, as Reid Carrico (24 carries, 144 yards) followed blocks by Seth Fosson and a strong offensive line that executed well.
The Pirates aren't as good as they've been the last two seasons, one of which ended with a state championship and the other with a trip to the second round of the playoffs. Wheelersburg, though, is good. So is Russell, Ironton's opponent at 7 p.m. Friday at Tanks Memorial Stadium. The Red Devils rolled to a surprisingly easy 41-0 triumph over Raceland on Saturday.
"Our players get to celebrate for 24 hours, then get to work on Russell," Ironton coach Trevon Pendleton said. "Our coaches don't get 24 hours. We're getting to work on Russell right away."
CONDOLENCES: Prayers for the family and friends of former Greenup County football coach Roy Lucas.
Lucas, 77, died last week. He coached the Musketeers from 1983 through 1986 and in his final season helped Greenup County to its first winning season since 1978.
Roy Lucas was the brother of former Ohio State University and NBA star Jerry Lucas.
JEFFREY NO. 10: Baseball America ranked former Cabell Midland High School starand current West Virginia University pitcher Madison Jeffrey the No. 10 prospect in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, a summer circuit.
Playing for the North Adams (Massachusetts) SteepleCats, Jeffrey struck out 22 and posted a 1.92 earned run average in 22 innings of relief. Jeffrey's fastball sat in the 93 to 95 mph range and at times hit 96. He also displayed what Baseball America called "a nice breaking ball." The publication also reported Jeffrey "has a chance to ride his velocity all the way to the major leagues."
RECRUITING ROUNDUP: Former Huntington St. Joe and current Hurricane baseball star Lenny Washington committed to Gardner-Webb University. ... Huntington St. girls basketball standout Bailee Adkins, who de-committed from DePaul University, committed to the University of Dayton. ... Spring Valley baseball player Tyrus Baumgardner visited the University of Charleston last week. ... Russell girls basketball player Kaeli Ross picked up an offer from Georgetown College. ... Football standouts Gunnur Lewis of Raceland and Gary Swiney of Ashland were offered by Thomas More University. ... Former Fairmont Senior basketball star Jalen Bridges visited WVU Friday and Saturday. ... Capital wide receiver Chance Knox visited WVU on Saturday.
NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES: Alexander defeated Gallia Academy, 23-25, 25-16, 25-19, 25-17 in volleyball last week to hand the Blue Angels their first home loss since Sept. 25, 2014 when they fell to Nelsonville-York. Gallia Academy bounced back to beat Portsmouth to extend its Ohio Valley Conference winning streak to 44 matches. ... Boyd County golfer Olivia Hensley shot 1-under par to win the Bluegrass Invitational Golf Tournament at Heritage Hill Golf Club in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. ... Lawrence County's Baden Gillispie set a school record with a 95-yard touchdown run Friday in the Bulldogs' 42-12 victory over Prestonsburg. ... Federal Hocking defeated Hundred 28-20 Friday to end a winless streak that dated to Oct. 24, 2014. The Lancers had gone 0-39-1 since beating Waterford 16-14. ... Chesapeake inducted six former star athletes - John Chapman, Bill Houston, Cody Hunt, Michael Hunt, Tim Hunt and Carl Pemberton - into the school's hall of fame on Friday. ... Ashland defeated Boyd County Friday to win its 700th game in school history, the ninth-highest total in Kentucky. ... Russell inducted Chinwe Okoro, Laura Patrick, Don Ratliff and Dr. Dan Watson into its hall of fame Saturday. ... Coal Grove renamed the street outside its football stadium Dave Lucas Lane in honor of the longtime Hornets coach.