The Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks are off to a flying start, shutting out Tucson High Friday night, to remain undefeated at 3-0.
The evening’s two-hour rain delay did not slow down the Nighthawks’ running game. Starting with the first handoff, Mitch Fischer took control.
The senior tailback ran 36 yards to paydirt on the first play from scrimmage. On his second carry, he ran 74 yards to the house, giving Ironwood Ridge a 14-0 lead with 5:43 left in the first quarter.
Fischer had 110 yards and two touchdowns on his first two carries. He finished the game with 148 yards on nine carries and three touchdowns, in the 49-0 winning route over Tucson High.
“We did expect the game to be a lot closer than it ended up being,” said Coach Matt Johnson. “Mitch had an incredible game and took over. We got some lucky breaks, and the kids handled adversity really well.”
Junior quarterback Tyler Williams continues to get better as the season goes on. Williams ran for 89 yards, and started showing his throwing capabilities. The first-year varsity quarterback completed four passes for 34 yards and a touchdown.
“Tyler has the confidence and the ability to be a great quarterback in all facets of the position,” Johnson said.
The Nighthawks’ coach said he is also pleased with the team’s defense in Friday’s shutout victory.
Besides keeping Tucson High out of the end zone, Gordon Longville had a big night with a strip and an interception return for a touchdown.
“Tucson High has a lot of weapons, and I just really told these guys to get focused on the mental aspect of the game,” Johnson said. “I am really fortunate this year to have a lot of smart players.”
Because of a strong defense, the Nighthawks have outscored opponents 128-19 this season.
However, despite the strong start, the Nighthawks have a lot of football left to play.
Johnson said every Monday and Tuesday he and the coaching staff work to keep egos in check.
“Every week we are working toward a state championship,” said Johnson. “No matter who we are playing, every week is about getting better so we can meet that goal.”
This week, the Nighthawks will play 0-3 Cholla, and next week, will be back at home to host Marcos de Niza from Tempe.
In the state’s Division II rankings, Ironwood sits in fifth place behind Chaparral, Centennial, Marco de Niza and Salpointe Catholic.