Ironwood Ridge vs Liberty High Football

Ironwood Ridge senior Michael Volk breaks past a Liberty defender during Friday night’s game. The Nighthawks won 42-40.

Randy Metcalf/The Explorer

Coming off a state title, it was going to be tough for Ironwood Ridge to duplicate their success in 2013. The Nighthawks returned to the playoffs, but did not make a deep run like they did before.

The season started off great. First the Nighthawks edge a good Liberty squad, then went on the road to defeat Cienega in what would be the first of three straight road games.

They suffered their first loss 35-28 on the road at Apollo High School in Glendale, then blew out district rival CDO 42-14. Back to back wins over Buena and Rincon/University had the Nighhawks sitting at 5-1.

From there the schedule got tougher and IRHS lost three games in row. First they lost a 51-30 shootout on the road at Tucson High, then fell to Mountain View 14-7 at home, their first loss ever to the Mountain Lions. Eventual state champion Salpointe handed them the third loss 48-9.

The Nighthawks got back to their winning ways, beating Vista Grande in a game that qualified them for the state playoffs.

Their stay in the postseason was a brief one as host Marcos de Niza beat them 28-16 in Tempe in their first round playoff match-up.

Junior quarterback Dylan Key passed for 1,300 yards and 15 scores, while Jake Vartanian rushed for 1,200 yards and 17 scores.  

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