HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Nighthawks seek nothing short of 'state' - The Explorer: Sports

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Nighthawks seek nothing short of 'state'

Punishing defense, heralded ground game to propel team

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Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2008 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:03 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Ironwood Ridge’s Jake Fischer carries a heavy stone into this season. To see it, ask the 5’11”, 220-pound linebacker about last year’s season-ending 21-14 home loss to Sunnyside.

Better yet, show up and see what college recruiters from across the West rave about, as Fischer and the brutal Nighthawks defense lead a charge that appears title-bound.

“We’re really hungry. We’re going balls to the wall every week in lifting, practices, everything,” said Fischer, nominated for the prep All-American Bowl. “Everyone believes we’re going to state.”

Senior offensive lineman Marcus Klune is packed for the ride. At 6’4” and 260 pounds, he traveled with Fischer to check out Colorado’s university campuses, while Northern Arizona University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, have also shown interest.

But that’s a year from now, and Klune’s focused on more immediate tasks.

“We were the underdogs last year, and a lot of people were dogging down on us,” Klune said. “We’re going to surprise a lot of people this year.”

Head coach Gary Minor tagged defense as the Nighthawks’ key component. Yet he’s ready to watch how senior quarterback Chris Harris impacts a team leveraged on the ground game.

“Our strength is up front. There’s no doubt about that,” Minor said.

So, then, why not post a few defensive stars onto the offense? That idea’s so 2007.

Fischer reeled in nearly nine yards per carry last year as a running back, with 466 yards and five touchdowns. The numbers have mutated into some high personal goals — 1,000 yards rushing, 150 tackles and 10 touchdowns — that should spark the Nighthawks’ season.

Were self-expectation a pathogen, it’d be spreading through the locker room, growing on the tile.

Senior linebacker/tight end Ray Cottman looks to boost his 103-tackle tally to “130 or 140” this year — even if it means fighting through a front-loaded schedule of meaty Phoenix competition.

“I like playing against bigger guys,” Cottman said. “I’ve always liked competition throughout my entire life.”

Ironwood Ridge High School

Mascot: Nighthawks

Region: 5A Southern II

Colors: Navy, silver, white

Coach profile

Gary Minor, eighth year

Record: 50-24

Previous: Coached junior varsity at CDO for two decades

2007 record (8-4, 3-0)

Aug. 31 Pinnacle L 23-3

Sept. 7 Goldwater L 7-6

Sept. 14 at Willow Canyon W 19-14

Sept. 20 at Casa Grande W 28-0

Sept. 28 Buena W 21-14

Oct. 5 at Salpointe L 7-6

Oct. 12 Tucson W 55-12

Oct. 19 at Rincon W 44-0

Oct. 26 Sunnyside W 15-14

Nov. 2 at Mountain View W 30-0

Nov. 9 Willow Canyon W 38-6

Nov. 16 Sunnyside L 21-14

2008 schedule

Sept. 5 at Pinnacle        

Sept. 19 Willow Canyon    

Sept. 26 Casa Grande Union

Oct. 3 at Buena    

Oct. 10 Salpointe

Oct. 17 at Tucson

Oct. 24 Rincon    

Oct. 31 at Sunnyside

Nov. 7 Mountain View

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HS Schedule

Tuesday, September 16

Boys Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Buena, Cienega at Marana

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge, Catalina at Amphi (Silverbell GC)

Catalina Foothills, Pueblo, Sahuarita at Sahuaro

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Mountain View at Rio Rico

Ironwood Ridge at Glendale Ironwood

Swimming (@4 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge, Sahuarita at Desert Christian

Wednesday, September 17

Girls Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Rincon at CDO

Ironwood Ridge, Desert View at Flowing Wells (Silverbell)

Cross Country (@4:30)

Salpointe at Catalina Foothills

Palo Verde, Nogales at Marana

Rincon, St. Gregory at CDO

Sahuarita, Pueblo, Pusch Ridge at Desert View

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Empire at Marana (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

CDO at Queen Creek

Cienega at Mountain View

Sahuaro at Catalina Foothills

Walden Grove at Pusch Ridge

Thursday, September 18

Girls Golf

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Boys Golf

Sahuaro and Salpointe at Ironwood Ridge

CDO, Rincon, Sunnyside at Tucson High

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Marana at Sahuarita

Ironwood Ridge at Sahuaro (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

Catalina Foothills at Rincon

Pusch Ridge at San Manuel

Swimming (4 p.m.)

Marana vs. Tucson at Quincy Douglas Pool

Cienega at Marana

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Amphi

Catalina Foothills at Sahuaro

Freshman Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Flowing Wells at Marana (4 p.m.)

Desert View at Mountain View

Cienega at CDO

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

JV Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Amphi at Marana

Santa Cruz Valley at Pusch Ridge

Mountain View at Desert View

CDO at Cienega

Buena at Ironwood Ridge

Sahuarita at Catalina Foothills

Friday, September 19

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge at Mt. Carmel Invitational (San Diego, CA)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions

Football (@7 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at Santa Cruz Valley

Catalina at Marana

Desert Vista at Mountain View

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Cienega at CDO

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

Saturday, September 20

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Marana at Old Pueblo Invite(Lincoln Park)

Mountain View at San Diego

Catalina Foothills, CDO at Ojo Rojo (Chandler, AZ)

Swimming

Marana at Wolves Classic (Chandler High)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions

 

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