Brandon Barrios

Ironwood Ridge senior running back Brandon Barrios find opens ground against Desert View Friday, Sept. 27. Barrios finished the game with four touchdowns in a 44-0 blowout win for the Nighthawks. Purchase this photo by clicking here.

The Ironwood Ridge football team entered Friday’s game with Desert View licking their wounds and ready to punch an opponent in the mouth. 

The Nighthawks did just that, blanking an overmatched Jaguars team, 44-0, thanks to four rushing touchdowns by senior running back Brandon Barrios. 

Barrios’ offensive exploits, in addition to multiple turnovers in the game’s first half, allowed Ironwood Ridge to seize control of the contest in the first half. 

Barrios shared credit for his career night with those up front that created space, thanking the young men in the trenches for their efforts. 

“Our offensive line got everything started, they came out fast, ready to go,” he said. “And our defense gave us the jump as always... I couldn’t have asked for better field position.”

Ironwood Ridge (2-3) entered Friday’s contest coming off three-straight losses, to Campo Verde, Millennium and Centennial. The Nighthawks lost those games by a combined score of 100-41. 

First-year Ironwood Ridge coach James Hardy Jr. said his team was eager to pounce on the Jaguars entering their 5A Southern region opener.

Hardy believes the team’s difficult early-season schedule will benefit them in the long-run, allowing the Nighthawks to better understand what it takes to contend for a state championship. 

“They came out and they responded,” Hardy said. “Offensive, defense and special teams. I’m proud of their effort. It’s a building block, and we’re going to build on this and we’re going to get better.” 

Barrios echoed his coach, summing up the team’s search for gridiron domination.

“That’s how it’s going to be in region play,” Barrios said. “We’ve been getting punched in the mouth by all of those Phoenix teams, and now it’s our turn here in the 5A Southern region.” 

Fellow senior Cameron Drescher, who hauled in a four-yard catch in the corner of the end zone for one of the team’s six touchdowns, also attributed the win the defense’s can-do mentality, which came from the hard work Hardy and his staff put in during the week’s practices. 

“Our coaches every week come out with a solid game plan,” Drescher said. “I think if we just do that and do our jobs, as our coaches always say, then I think we’ll be fine.”

Hardy is confident that Friday’s win is the tip of the iceberg for his squad as they enter a stretch of five-straight games against region foes. 

Hardy is confident that the Nighthawks, who hit the road to play Nogales Friday, Oct. 4, have learned a lot from their losses to a trio of Phoenix-area heavyweights. 

He believes the team’s 44-point win over Desert View showed their collective mettle and on-field camaraderie, giving the team a shot at a regional crown—should they play well against their final five opponents. 

“I think [the schedule] truly builds character,” Hardy said. “It truly builds character and it allows us to be competitive. And that’s the reason that you play those teams is that you want to be able to prepare for competitive teams.”

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