Last year, an injury left Ironwood Ridge’s Anthony Braunreiter to watch about half the football season from the sidelines.
This year, it’s a whole different story. The senior running back is healthy and more involved than ever, and his name, feared by opponents and respected by teammates, is quickly becoming known around Tucson.
“It’s great to be healthy again, and to be able to contribute again,” said Braunreiter.
For those who aren’t yet familiar with Braunreiter, the 5-foot, 8-inch, 205-pound running back has built quite the football resume this season, leading the Nighthawks in touchdowns with 11, and scoring at least once in six of the seven games played this season to include two touchdowns against Canyon Del Oro, two against Marana, four against Tucson High, one against Cholla, and two against Marcos De Niza.
He averages more than seven yards per carry and 117 rushing yards per game, and has undeniably been a huge factor in helping the Nighthawks remain undefeated this season. The Nighthawks recently defeated Centennial, who was ranked third in the state.
For Braunreiter though, it’s not about the numbers or bragging rights. It’s about sharing those hard-fought wins with his teammates. It’s about working at practice day in and day out. It’s about helping his team become a contender for a state championship. In fact, Braunreiter seems to shy away from the individual attention, and is quick to recognize his teammates, and particularly his offensive line.
“Our offensive line doesn’t get a lot of the credit they deserve,” said Braunreiter. “They do a great job out there, and I can’t do it without them.”
After the graduation of last year’s star running back Mitch Fischer, the question loomed as to who would fill that role. Braunreiter has responded to that question in a big way, made possible by his own talent, hard work, and winning attitude. Of course, it didn’t hurt to pick up a few tips from Fischer, either.
“He was always a hardworking player, and I just try to follow in his footsteps, not to be just like him, but to try and do the best I can everyday at practice,” said Braunreiter.
So far, it seems Braunreiter is paving his own path for the next running back to come.
“It’s a great honor to be part of this team and to be looked up to,” said Braunreiter. “We’re a really close team and we’re always looking to improve.”
The truth is though, the undefeated Nighthawks can’t get much better. With a rank of second best in the state, the Nighthawks will look to make it 8-0 Friday night against Flowing Wells.