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 30

Boys Golf (3 p.m.)

Mountain View at Haven Golf Course

Ironwood Ridge, Buena, Catalina at Rincon (Dell Urich)

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

Marana at CDO

Maricopa at Mountain View

Ironwood Ridge at Vista Grande

Poston Butte at Catalina Foothills

San Miguel at Pusch Ridge

Freshman Football (6 p.m.)

Maricopa at Marana

Wednesday, October 1

Girls Golf (3 p.m.)

Mountain View vs. Ironwood Ridge (Omnu Tucson National)

CDO, Sunnyside at Flowing Wells (Silverbell)

Sabino at Catalina Foothills

Cross Country (4:30 p.m.)

Ironwood Ridge, Sahuarita at Flowing Wells (Columbus Park)

Marana, St. Gregory at Catalina Foothills

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

CDO at Ironwood Ridge

Freshman Football (6 p.m.)

Mountain View at Salpointe

Catalina Foothills at CDO

JV Football (6.p.m.)

Marana at Maricopa

Salpointe at Mountain View

CDO at Catalina Foothills

Thursday, October 2

Swimming (4 p.m.)

Mountain View, St. Gregory’s, Pusch Ridge at Marana

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

Mountain View at Poston Butte

Catalina Foothills at Flowing Wells

Pusch Ridge at Willcox

Varsity Football (7p.m.)

Maricopa at Marana

Mountain View at Salpointe

Catalina Foothills @ CDO

Ironwood Ridge at Rincon

Friday, October 3

Boys Golf (all day)

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Santa Rita/Flowing Wells Invitational

Girls Vollyeball (all day)

CDO, Catalina Foothills at Falcon Invitational

Cross Country

Catalina Foothills, CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Desert Twilight Festival

Varsity Footbal (7 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at San Tan Valley

Saturday, October 4

Boys Golf (all day)

CDO at Santa Rita/Flowing Wells Invitational

Swimming (all day)

Catalina Foothills, CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Brophy/Xavier Swim Invitational

Girls Volleyball (4 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at Desert Christian

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