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They have a solid program and the talent this year to be a playoff team. The question then comes down to whether the Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks can get the job done and bring home a state title this year.
The 2013 high school football season is officially under way, with teams hitting the field on Aug. 23, including returning state champions Ironwood Ridge High School.
After capturing the Division II State Championship last year, the Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks will look to rebuild this year, returning only one starter out of 22 spots from the 2012 season.
When the 2012 season was first getting under way, Ironwood Ridge Coach Matt Johnson and the Nighthawk players were clear on their goals. The first was to get past the semifinals in the state playoffs, a round they failed to win for three straight seasons. The second goal was to win it all and become the Division II State Champions.
Tyler Williams rushes behind behind tailback Anthony Braunreiter.
Anthony Braunreiter takes the handoff from Tyler Williams. The senior tailback at 81 yards on the night.
Anthony Braunreiter becomes emotional after the game.
As Jake Matthews reached up to smack down a pass in the second half of the Division II State Championships, it fell into the ready arms of Scott Simmons, who ran 6 yards for the defensive touchdown, it became clear that the Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks were headed to victory.
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.
Above, Tyler Williams makes his way through the Marcos de Niza defense. At left, Anthony Braunreiter carries the ball. Braunreiter was the star of the game, rushing for more than 270 yards. The Nighthawks now face Centennial.
In the 2012 regular season, one game prevented Marcos de Niza from reaching perfection. In week five Tucson's Ironwood Ridge came to Tempe and the Nighthawks went back to the Old Pueblo with a road win over the Padres.
First, the opening kickoff is returned 95 yards for a touchdown. Then, the defense yields a 70-yard scoring drive for another touchdown.
As Ironwood Ridge quarterback Tyler Williams put it, “Someone had to pay for last week.”
Ironwood Ridge running back Anthony Braunreiter breaks away from two Prescott defenders during the first round of playoffs Friday night. The Nighthawks won 52-14 and will face Apollo at home this week.
The Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks put on a dominating performance in round one of the Division II state playoffs, defeating the Prescott Badgers 52-14.
Ironwood Ridge High School's Anthony Braunreiter breaks through a tackle during Friday night's first round playoff game against Prescott.
The stands were filled beyond capacity, players were pumped and only one team would have bragging rights of being Tucson’s best team heading into to the playoffs in Friday night’s season finale between top-ranked Ironwood Ridge, and second-place Salpointe.
Nighthawk Anthony Braunreiter leaps to complete Friday night at the match up against the Lancers.
Ironwood Ridge could be excused for looking past Catalina Foothills, and thinking about their season finale at Salpointe Catholic.
The Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks remained undefeated on Friday, beating the Mountain View Mountain Lions 42-14.
Last year, an injury left Ironwood Ridge’s Anthony Braunreiter to watch about half the football season from the sidelines.
Ironwood Ridge High School senior Anthony Braunreiter breaks away from Mountain View High School senior Austin Trebilcock late in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game. The Nighthawks won 42-14.
Ironwood Ridge’s Anthony Braunreiter tries to hang onto the ball as Mountain View’s Zach Ayers brings him to the ground in the first quarter.
The Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks remained undefeated after collecting their seventh straight win of the season against Mountain View on Friday night.
Ironwood Ridge High School senior Anthony Braunreiter gets a block from Jake Matthews to keep Mountain View's James Robinson from getting a tackle Friday night. The Nighthawks defeated the Mountain Lions 42-14.