On Friday night Ironwood Ridge opened up their 2014 schedule with a tough 24-20 loss to Peoria Liberty. We take a quick look at the impact of the game on the Nighthawks.
Overall Impact: No team wants to lose, but this would be considered a good loss. The Lions are a likely top-10 team in Division II and a close loss on the road will not hurt all that much. I actually come away impressed. Liberty was billed by people in Phoenix as having both a top-10 offense and defense in the state, so a close loss on the road, one they had a real chance at winning, is not that bad.
Positives: This loss will still look good in the rankings. Liberty projects as a very good team, so a loss to them will not really hurt in the rankings. Ironwood Ridge has to be confident coming out of the game, proving they could give a good team all they could handle. This game also makes the Nighthawks battle tested heading into their next few games which will be difficult. Holding a good offense to just 24 points, three in the second half, bodes well for the defense.
Negatives: An early loss, even a good loss, means there is next to no margin for error if IRHS wants a top-five seed in the playoffs. The Nighthawks had their chances in the second half but could not capitalize and the defense could not get the ball back in the final minutes. Offensively the Nighthawks were held scoreless in the second half.
Next Up: The Nighthawks get another tough road game against Cienega (0-0). The Bobcats are looking to get back to the postseason after missing the playoffs last season. It is also the final season for Cienega Head Coach Nemer Hassey.