Headed to state: Nighthawks rush past semifinals, face Centennial - The Explorer: Sports

Headed to state: Nighthawks rush past semifinals, face Centennial

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Posted: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 6:07 pm | Updated: 12:06 pm, Wed Nov 21, 2012.

The Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks earned a spot in the Division II State Championships by doing what they do best, running the ball in the semifinal victory over Marcos de Niza.

The Nighthawks defeated Marcos de Niza 35-21 on Nov. 16, with tailback Anthony Braunreiter leading the way. The senior star rushed for 279 yards on 22 carries, with 140 of those coming in the first half.

Braunreiter, who thanked his offensive line after Friday’s victory, has rushed for 1,685 yards for the season.

“I was really pleased, I thought our kids played a great game,” said Ironwood Ridge Head Coach Matt Johnson. “Our whole goal this year has been to compete in the playoffs, and that’s what we’ve being doing so far.”

The Nighthawks have struggled in the semifinal rounds in past years, losing a heartbreaker last season to Cienega. At the beginning of this season, the Nighthawks talked of getting past that semifinal hump and winning a state championship.

When asked about winning the semifinals, Johnson said, “We’re excited about it. With these kids, that has been our goal, and to finally get over it feels great. And, while we’re excited, we still have a lot of work to do, and we still have to be good students and citizens in the meantime.”

Now, the Nighthawks are in position to achieve the goal of winning a state championship on Saturday, Nov. 24 as they get set to take on Peoria Centennial at Sun Devil Stadium.

Centennial earned a ticket to state, beating top seed Salpointe, which Johnson said wasn’t a big surprise, given the talent that remained with the final four times.

“Everyone at this point is going to be a good team,” he said. “A couple breaks can send a game either way for either team.”

When it comes to the game plan for Centennial, Johnson said he wouldn’t be making many changes.

“If you change too much, you start confusing your own kids,” he said. “We have had success doing what we’ve been doing, and I don’t think we will do much differently this game.”

The Nighthawks (12-1) defeated Centennial (12-1) 28-24 in week 6.

Centennial Coach Richard Taylor said he is looking forward to the rematch.

“Salpointe was an outstanding team,” he said. “If we hadn’t made improvements since the sixth game, I doubt we’d be playing this week.”

Taylor said Ironwood Ridge may not have a lot of big players, but they are all good athletes who play to their strengths.

“They all run and they all hit,” he said. “We did have some problems with what they did. It was no accident. They earned those turnovers, and earned the win.”

In the first meeting, Centennial lost four fumbles, and had two interceptions.

Saturday’s game will make the first time in school history the Nighthawks will play in the state championships.

Third seed Ironwood Ridge, and fourth seed Centennial will kick off at 7:07 p.m. Saturday.

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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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