Fighting Tigers’ talent, depth highlight high hopes

Fighting Tigers’ talent, depth highlight high hopes



photos by Kent Sanborn

IRONTON – Trevon Pendleton probably predicts a smoother second season as head coach of the Ironton Fighting Tigers.

With high numbers, immense depth, overall experience and just good pure wholesome talent, that prediction – on the surface anyway – is more of a no-brainer.

It’s easy to have another optimistic outlook for the Fighting Tigers, which sport a roster of nearly 70 – and are anticipated strong challengers for the Ohio Valley Conference championship, and another Division V state playoff appearance.

“Honestly, the strength of our team is our depth. We’re going deep at every position right now. We’re rotating about eight or nine deep on the offensive line. Defensively, we’re rotating guys at a lot of different positions. We’ve got a lot of competition among ourselves and it’s making all our kids better,” said Pendleton. “We started a lot of guys last year, probably in the low 20s who started at least one game for us and are back this year. A lot of young guys grew up and developed and gained a lot of valuable experience. That is going to be beneficial for us this season.”

Pendleton, the former Portsmouth West and Michigan State standout which begins his second season in Ironton, said it’s been an easier transition from his first year to now.

“Things have gone much smoother this year. The first year, the kids are trying to figure you out and you are trying to figure out the kids. This year, it’s different, but now we know what to expect as a staff and the kids know what to expect from us,” he said. “Our approaches are different, whether it’s the weight-room, film study, our practices, our preparation, our mental approach. Everything is just better and just easier now that we have a year under our belts.”

It needs to be easier, too, given the annual expectations surrounding the tradition-rich Fighting Tiger program.

“The expectations are always high here. When you’ve got a program like this and the guys who come before you had success the way they had, it keeps the standards very high,” said Pendleton.“Our expectations as a team are always the same. We’re going to go out and try to win every football game. We’re going to compete until the final whistle. We always have the expectations that no one is going to outwork us. We are going to give great effort every game, win or lose. We are going to show up and work hard and feel confident going into every Friday night.”

The Fighting Tigers finished 6-5 last season, but struggled down the stretch in losing their final three games to finish second in the OVC – combined with a narrow 15-7 Region 19 quarterfinal playoff loss at Division V state runner-up Johnstown-Monroe.

Pendleton explained the growing pains of his first season in coaching, and why those same pains appear alleviated this fall.

“Last year was a learning experience for all of us. The players and coaching staff both. We won some games and lost some games, we learned lessons on what we can do better, but we did make the playoffs. That said, we believe we are better this year, just knowing each other better and what everybody expects from everybody else,” he said. “That’s going to really help us going into this year.”

It helps, too, to have Ironton’s experience and depth up front.

Four of five starters return along the offensive line – minus first-team all-Southeast District Division V first-teamer Brady Rowe.

Rocky White will return at center (5-11, 235, jr.), with Riley Boggs (6-2, 260, sr.) back at one guard.

Pendleton said his lines go about eight or even nine men deep, with returning starter Caden McFann (5-11, 250, sr.) able to play either guard or tackle.

The other tackle is six-foot five-inch 310-pound senior Noah Davidson, a two-year starter at Raceland (Ky.) who transferred across the Ohio River.

Others expected to see snaps along the line are seniors Hunter Eaches (5-10, 245) and Nolan Schreck (6-0, 230), juniors Matthew Davis (6-0, 210) and Chase Stevens (5-11, 210) and sophomores Nate Cochran (6-2, 250) and Ryan Cecil (6-1, 270).

Those linemen will be blocking for a talented trio of experienced backs – senior quarterback Gage Salyers (6-1, 205), senior fullback Seth Fosson (6-1, 235) and junior tailback Reid Carrico (6-3, 225).

Gage Salyers
Current Team

All three are returning first-team all-district selections from a year ago – Salyers at quarterback combined with Carrico at running back and Fosson for a defensive end.

Salyers has verbally committed to Youngstown State, but it’s Carrico collecting offers from most of the major college football factories in the country.

The 16-year-old’s list of pursuers includes Ohio State, Notre Dame, Clemson, Alabama, Texas, Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, Kentucky and Marshall.

Reid Carrico
Current Team
2019, 2020

As a linebacker, he is listed as the 11th-best by Rivals and 34th nationally, including first in Ohio.

Carrico is the third-highest rated overall prospect in the Buckeye State by 247Sports.

He rushed for 1,256 yards and 14 touchdowns last season, averaging 6.6 yards per carry, while catching nine passes for 120 yards.

Pendleton said Carrico has handled himself well, given his impressive offseason courtship by colleges.

But, of course, Ironton is far from all about Carrico.

Consider Salyers still is receiving interest from colleges, as is Fosson, including some Division I schools.

Last year, Salyers completed 61-of-123 passes for 917 yards and a dozen touchdowns, throwing only three interceptions in the process.

He also rushed 101 times for 531 yards and eight scores.

The fullback Fosson is a two-time all-district honoree, including as a running back as a sophomore, as he also earned third-team all-Ohio in that campaign.

Pendleton praised his highly-touted backfield as a perfect mesh of size, strength and speed.

“Those are three good experienced varsity players to have in the same backfield. Highly-talented guys and three possible Division-I athletes. All three know what to do with the ball when they have it, they block well for each other, they run well, and all three are humble kids. They just want to win football games,” said the coach.

Junior Jones, a six-foot, 240-pound senior, transferred in from arch-rival Ashland (Ky.) and will back up Fosson – along with fellow senior Beau Brownstead (6-0, 220).

Carrico’s primary backup is sophomore Kameron Browning.

The tight ends include Brownstead, fellow senior Bryce Munion (5-9, 150) and sophomore Ashton Duncan (6-2, 205), while wide receivers include seniors Jordan Grizzle and Colin Freeman and juniors Trent Hacker and Kyle Howell.

Grizzle and Hacker are returning starters, while Howell transfers in from Portsmouth West.

Ironton’s offense under Pendleton is evolving into more multiple looks, moving away from the days of its traditional full-house.

So too is its defense, which was a solid 5-2 front for many years, but now operates out of a 3-4 base.

Fosson anchors the front at the strong side end, while Jones – primarily a defensive stalwart at Ashland – will play the other end or more likely nose guard.

Gunnar Crawford (5-10, 225, jr.) is the likely end opposite Fosson, while Cochran and Cecil can play nose.

With the graduation of Division V Southeast District co-Defensive Player of the Year and first-team all-Ohioan Ethan Duncan, Carrico moves to inside linebacker – along with Brownstead, Crawford or six-foot, 200-pound junior Dylan Carpenter.

Fellow junior Cameron Deere (5-11, 185) returns at outside linebacker, with the others including Munion, Duncan or junior Dalton Crabtree (6-0, 200).

The secondary returns three starters – Salyers and Grizzle at the safeties and Freeman at one corner.

The other corner will be Browning or Howell.

Similar to the offense, the Fighting Tigers’ defense sports a plethora of experience, talent and depth.

But most importantly perhaps, Pendleton maintains the defensive motto that “nobody is going to outwork us.”

“We want to be aggressive on defense and make plays, but we want to do so under control and limit our mistakes,” he said. “These are high school kids and they are going to make mistakes, but we want to give our best effort on every snap. Penalties are part of the game and we want to limit those, but do so giving our best effort on every play. There are going to be missed assignments and missed tackles, just like turnovers or missed blocks on offense, but we try to limit our mistakes. When you give all-out effort on every play, you cut down on unforced errors.”

While Duncan did the punting last season, Ironton’s depth also extends to three potential placekickers, including Avery Book.

Book, who can also punt, is battling Ironton St. Joseph attendees Izsac Unger and Michael Mahlmeister.

Indeed, Ironton needs all of its weapons at its disposal, given the depth of the OVC – which proceeds its brutal three-game non-league schedule starting with Wheelersburg.

Wheelersburg enters Tanks Memorial Stadium on Friday (Aug. 30) for the annual season opener – and off six consecutive seasons of no worse than earning a regional runner-up.

Those six straight seasons coincide with a victory over Ironton.

The Fighting Tigers then take on Russell and Ashland from Kentucky – in addition to the OVC slate.

Gallia Academy is the defending league champion, although Ironton is observed as its most immediate challenger.

While rugged defines the schedule, the expectations are that things – perhaps predictability – will go much smoother in Pendleton’s second season.

The real no-brainer, of course, is that hopes are high and another solid year is in store.

Head Coach Trevon Pendleton

Current Team
Past Teams
Portsmouth West

“Expectations are always high, but we have some good athletes here that are going to go battle for 48 minutes and give it everything they have in every game,” said Pendleton. “When you give great effort, everything else takes care of itself, including winning. We do have a very difficult schedule, but that will only make us better with every week.”

Ironton 2019 Roster & Stats

2Junior Jones20206-0024000000592110000000
2Trevor Carter20236-011850000023232400000000
5Will York20215-111700000000000000000
6Caleb Murphy20226-0217500000223000000000
7Gage Salyers20206-0120576158515781713287213126000000
8Beau Brownstead20206-0022000000617000000000
8Aiden Young 20235-061300000000000000000
9Jacob Sloan20226-001800000013000000000
10Trent Hacker20216-021750000000010228200000
10Tayden Carpenter20235-1117514090413000000000
12Avery Book20205-111800000029000000000
13Kayden Sherril20215-111500000000000000000
15Landon Wilson20235-081400000000000000000
18Braxton Pringle20226-011750000000019000000
20Kyle Howell20215-101701402601267015214200000
21Richard Thompson20205-101800000000000000000
22Brent Gist20225-091700000000000000000
22C.J. Martin20235-081450000000000000000
24Ashton Duncan20226-022050000000010134000000
25Colin Freeman20206-00170000000007188300000
26Isaac Fisher20215-101600000000000000000
27Terrell Mize20235-09145000001-6000000000
28Reid Carrico20216-032250100020815812317393400000
29Jordan Grizzle20205-1019000000444012375400000
30Cameron Deere20215-1118500000433012121000000
31Kameron Browning20225-111700000020135200000000
32Lincoln Barnes20235-111600000000000000000
33Dalton Crabtree20215-101900000015000000000
33DeAngelo Weekly20235-101750000016000000000
36Gunnar Crawford20215-1022500000315016000000
37Uriah Meadows20215-051450000000000000000
40Cole Freeman20235-081500000000000000000
44Seth Fosson20206-012350000057391600000000
45Dylan Carpenter20216-002000000000000000000
46Blake Murrell20225-112000000000000000000
50Ashton Silva  20215-092000000000000000000
51Owen Ison20215-111900000000000000000
52Matthew Davis20216-002100000000000000000
54Ryan McClain20215-112500000000000000000
55Hunter Eaches20205-102450000000000000000
56Jacquin Young20205-081800000000000000000
57Caden McFann20205-112500000000000000000
60Miles Thomas20235-111800000000000000000
61Chase Stevens20215-112100000000000000000
62Evan Wilds20225-101800000000000000000
63Rocky White20215-112350000000000000000
64Nolan Schreck20206-002300000000000000000
64Tanner Moore20235-112250000000000000000
65Lucas White20205-112200000000000000000
66Hunter Moore20235-112150000000000000000
68Ben Taylor20235-112050000000000000000
70Riley Boggs20226-022600000000000000000
71Landon Waddle20225-112000000000000000000
71Anthony Kirk 20235-112000000000000000000
72Derek Neal20235-112250000000000000000
74Hayden Harmon20216-002500000000000000000
75C.J. McCall20226-013100000000000000000
76Nate Cochran20226-022500000000000000000
77Caleb Brown20235-102000000000000000000
78Ryan Cecil20226-012700000000000000000
79Noah Davidson20206-053150000000000000000
82Izsac Unger20205-101550000000000000000
83Eli Carter2023--0000000000000000
85Bryce Munion20205-091500000000000000000
88Michael Mahlmeister20226-011750000000000000000

Also see

Ironton Roster & Schedule

Ironton vs wheelersburg 2019

2019 Ironton Tigers Outlook



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