'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 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)


Marana at Wolves Classic (Chandler High)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions


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