Game Preview: Playoff Positioning On The Line As Jackson Hosts Ironton

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Friday night is senior night in Jackson, and it will be the biggest night of the year for the Ironmen. Eighteen seniors will be taking part in their final regular season home game at Alumni Stadium with a playoff berth riding on the line.

The Ironmen will clash with a more than familiar foe in the Ironton Fighting Tigers (6-1), a team that has dominated Jackson historically. But, Jackson has won the last two meetings, both of which have come down to the wire. In 2010, Jackson needed three overtimes to come away with the victory.

Both teams enter Friday’s game about as hot as they can be. Ironton has not lost since week one whereas Jackson is still undefeated after eight weeks of play.  

The Fighting Tigers have made it very clear what their offensive gameplan is all season long. Ironton runs a ‘T’-formation full-house backfield that is run directly through junior tailback D’Angelo Palladino. Palladino has already surpassed a 1,000 yards on the year along with 12 touchdowns. Ironton’s offensive formation tells opponents that the ball is going into Palladino but, hardly anyone has been able to stop him. Palladino has had monster running lanes and is currently averaging over eight yards per carry.   Ironton doesn’t just run solely through Palladino, either. Quarterback Tristan Cox has 47 carries and eight touchdowns of his own so far this year.

Jackson head coach Andy Hall knows as well as anyone that Palladino is going to be a handful.

“He is by far the best running back we have seen all year. He has great skill, great vision, and it’s going to take all 11 guys on defense to get to the ball, swarm it and make plays,” Hall said.

For Jackson, the Ironmen defense will have their hands full with Palladino. The Ironmen defense has only allowed an average of 7.5 points per game however; they gave up 21 in a victory over a struggling Portsmouth squad last week. Linebacker Reagan Williams and company will be looking to set the tone early.

On offense, Coach Hall stressed efficiency. “You can’t turn the ball over against a running team like Ironton because you’re not going to get a lot of possessions.”

In order to do that, Jackson will need all of their backs to hang on to the football. The Ironmen have five running backs that have all seen the end zone at least twice this season, proving they have just as big of a backfield threat.

The last time Jackson was able to win three straight games over Ironton dates all the way back to 1910-1911.

Major playoff implications, senior night, and an undefeated season all hang in the balance for the Jackson Ironmen. Expect a hard-nosed battle from the beginning as kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

'Gridiron Glory' airs every Friday night at 11:30 p.m. on WOUB. You can follow the show on Twitter @gridironglory, like the Gridiron Glory page on Facebook, and follow along on Instagram @woubsports. You can also join the conversation throughout the season by using the hashtag #GridGlory!