Nov. 3, 2004 - Ironwood Ridge will take its season into its own hands Nov. 5, needing a win over Rincon to qualify for the 4A Region state tournament.
The Nighthawks (7-2 overall, 5-1 in the 4A Sonoran Region) will host Rincon in a game where the winner will most likely claim the last spot in the 4A state tournament. Ironwood is on the outside looking in on the playoff picture, falling just short of the necessary power points to qualify for the state tourney. A win over the Rangers (7-2, 4-2) should knock Rincon from the 4A's top 16 and allow Ironwood to slip in the back door of the playoffs.
"I think we control our own destiny about getting in," said Ironwood Ridge head coach Gary Minor.
Ironwood Ridge enters its final game of the year winners of seven of its last eight games. The only blemish on the Nighthawks' region record came at the hands of undefeated Sunnyside which handily beat both Ironwood and Rincon en route to the Sonoran region title.
Sunnyside may have exposed a potential weakness in the Ironwood Ridge defense in the Blue Devils 49-7 win. Sunnyside was able to pass the ball with relative ease on a young Nighthawk secondary. Sunnyside quarterback Jamie Cota connected on 26 of 31 passing for 318 and four touchdowns against the Nighthawks.
"They (Sunnyside) decided they were just going to throw, throw, throw," said Minor, "And kept their starters in. That's the way they are I guess."
Ironwood Ridge rebounded the following week to post 49 points on a Catalina team ranked ahead of them in the power points poll. Ironwood is lead by a quarterback Ryan Crawford and an offense capable of going to the air the same as Sunnyside. Crawford has tossed for more than 1,000 yards on the season.
For Ironwood senior Daniel Borg, the game against Rincon could be the last of his high school career.
"It will be disappointing to me if we go 6-2 (in the region) and don't make state," said team leader, Borg. "We had the same record last year playing the same teams and we got an 11 seed (in the state tourney)."
According to Borg, Ironwood can compete with anybody in the region on offense but the team's defense remains its strength.
"Our defense has been the heart of our team," said Borg, "especially our front."
Rincon will travel to Ironwood Ridge for a 7 p.m. kickoff Nov. 5.