'Hawks take 7-game streak into Friday's state semifinal - The Explorer: Sports

'Hawks take 7-game streak into Friday's state semifinal

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Posted: Wednesday, December 1, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 8:15 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

It was cold Monday, and Matt Johnson had his Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks running "gassers," back and forth across a football field, to warm up.

Long ago, it seems, the 'Hawks were practicing in temperatures near triple digits. Long ago, it seems, the 9-3 Nighthawks last lost a football game.

They’ve won seven in a row headed into Friday night’s 5A-II semifinal game with 11-1 Peoria Centennial, kicking off at 7 p.m. at Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor. In three of those wins, Ironwood Ridge scored more than 60 points. They’ve all come since a 2-3 start. Ask a Nighthawk if they believed they’d be one win away from the state title game back then, and they all say “yes.”

“We knew we’d played three tough teams,” said senior quarterback Tyler D’Amore, who sparks the potent passing attack with pinpoint throws. “They’re helping us out in the playoffs.”

Those losses were to three Tucson powerhouses, Oro Valley rival Canyon Del Oro 26-13, CDO’s fellow state semifinalist Cienega 31-28, and always-strong Salpointe Catholic 24-21.

“They were close losses,” said 6-2, 220-pound senior defensive end Will Gordon. “It was not like we were getting destroyed.”

“We got all the tough teams out of the way,” said 6-2, 275-pound senior lineman Jacob Viesselman. “If we kept trying, I thought we could make it. We always break the huddle with ‘state.’”

“We’re always going to have confidence,” said D’Amore, who completed 15 of 21 passes for 272 yards and four touchdowns in the 41-21 quarterfinals win Nov. 19 over Sandra Day O’Connor. “We have some of the best athletes in the state. We never feel we’re the underdog.”

“We always thought we’d get there,” said senior Gabe Campa, who ran for 61 yards on six carries at O’Connor, and is a key to the Ridge defense from his linebacking spot. “Every week we try to get better. We’re not looking past this team. We’ve been blessed with a great seed and a great schedule. We’ve got to go out and give 110 percent.”

“We have confidence in our offense,” Gordon said. “When they get rolling, they can score some touchdowns.”

Ironwood Ridge did not practice last Thursday and Friday. Time away “has helped us tremendously,” Campa said, in terms of rest, healing and preparation. He, of course, is ready to go at any time, on every play. “I always want to be out on the field. This is my senior season.” He’s out there for almost every snap, save punt return.

On Friday, “we have to be crisp on offense, crisp on defense,” D’Amore said. “And no turnovers.”

“It’s going to take a lot of hard work,” said Viesselman. “We have to be focused, and we’re not able to make any mistakes.”

Ironwood Ridge and Centennial share one common opponent from the regular season. The Nighthawks beat Laveen Chavez 43-18, and Centennial shut out Chavez 42-0.

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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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