Football: The Ridge to play for their first state championshipby Andy Morales on Nov. 17, 2012, under Sports
SEMIFINALS: Friday, November 16
1 Salpointe lost to 4 Centennial, 28-14
3 Ironwood Ridge beat 2 Marcos de Niza, 35-21
The Phoenix media predicted a blowout loss for Ironwood Ridge when Centennial came to town in September but it didn’t happen. I guess they were going off of the lopsided results that the top Phoenix teams liked to post while they ran up the scores this fall.
Some speculated that running up the scores was in response to not knowing if point differential was a factor in the new MaxPreps/AIA seeding formula that has remained a secret for the most part.
At any rate, there is no logical reason why Marcos de Niza got to “host” a semifinal match with Ironwood Ridge Friday night when both teams had a single loss, especially when the Nighthawks beat Marcos de Niza on the road this year.
This is what fuels the “running up the score” helps you speculation. From the point where Ironwood Ridge beat them (5th game of the year) and took over a higher “seed,” Marcos de Niza went on to have a 257 point differential and outscored their opponents 312-55 while Ironwood Ridge had a 204 point difference with a 270-66 scoring mark.
Further, the record of Marcos de Niza’s opponents from that point on was a ridiculous 17-33 while Ironwood Ridge’s opponents had a combined 28-23 record.
The AIA/MaxPreps rankings also lists Ironwood Ridge as having a tougher strength of schedule (3.10 to 2.86).
It can be said that Marcos de Niza’s opponents from the whole year had a 52-48 record while Ironwood Ridge’s had a 48-53 record but that is moot because Ironwood Ridge passed Marcos de Niza in the rankings after they beat them.
Perhaps it was the Nighthawk’s loss to Salpointe to end the regular season combined with Marcos de Niza’s win over Cesar Chavez that tipped the scales against Ironwood Ridge. But, that only gave both teams the same record and Ironwood Ridge still had a stronger strength of schedule.
At any rate, it appears running up the score does help you in the rankings, no matter how bad your opponents are. But, you can’t run up the score against a team that is better than you and the Nighthawks proved it not once but twice in Marcos de Niza’s own backyard.
The Nighthawks backed up their 35-27 win at Marcos de Niza in September with a 35-21 win in the Division II semifinals Friday night and they did it where it hurts a team the most – on the ground.
Ironwood Ridge rushed for over 400 yards in the game with Anthony Braunreiter carrying much of the load with 278 yards on 33 tries (8.42). Tyler Williams added 143 yards rushing from his quarterback position.
Marcos de Niza managed 289 yards of total offense, barely able to keep ahead of Braunreiter much less the Nighthawks.
Marcos de Niza did take an early 7-0 lead but The Ridge scored 28 straight point to take a 28-7 lead (Ironwood Ridge missed on two conversions but Braunreiter ran in two conversions).
Braunreiter finished with four touchdowns and Williams added another.
(3) Ironwood Ridge will face (4) Centennial next Saturday at 7:07 pm at ASU Stadium for the Division II championship.
Centennial earned a rematch with Ironwood Ridge by defeating Salpointe 28-14 at Amphitheater Friday night in the other semifinal.
Ironwood Ridge defeated Centennial 28-24 at home in late September as part of their mid-season three-game sweep of Marcos de Niza (11-2), Centennial (12-1) and Mountain View (8-4) that cemented them as a high seed in Division II.
Salpointe hosted Centennial as the home team at Amphitheater but things got out of hand early after Centennial marched 80 yards in under four minutes to take a 7-0 lead. A sequence in that drive proved to be a omen of what was to come later in the game.
Facing a third down and four at their own 26, Tre’von Grant hit Jalen Ortiz on 29-yard pass to move the ball down field. Grant threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Austin Schleier for the score later in the drive on a fourth down play to the outside.
Coming up with big plays on third down and keeping to the outside was key to Centennial’s 28-14 victory over Salpointe.
With linebackers Carlos Carroll, Jake Casteel and Taylor Powell clogging up the holes up the middle, Centennial knew their best bet was to bounce all runs to the outside.
After forcing Salpointe to punt, Centennial got the ball back at midfield and Grant connected with Ortiz on a 5-yard pass to the outside to convert on another fourth down play. A Carroll sack had set up the situation but it forced Centennial’s hand to go where they were successful and Dedrick Young ran it in a few plays later to make it 14-0 with 2:16 left in the first.
Salpointe was unable to take advantage of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Centennial on their second drive and they were forced to punt again. Carroll burst through the line and sacked Grant again to set up a second down at the 13 yard line but Ortiz broke to his right and took the next carry 87 yards up the sideline to put Centennial up 21-0 with 11:03 left in the first half.
The Lancers punted again and this one proved costly as the umpires missed a block in the back by Centennial that left Powell sitting on the sidelines with a possible broken ankle. The referees conferenced at midfield after the no call.
Centennial punted and Salpointe had some of their own magic after they were called for holding to set up a long second down. Andy Cota hit Cameron Denson on a 37-yard pass to erase the 36-yard down and then hit him a again a play later on a 36-yard pass to set up a first down at the two yard line. Johnny Peña ran it in from there to make it 21-7 with 4:36 left in the half.
A holding penalty brought Centennial back to their 17 yard line on their next possession and then Casteel tackled Ortiz for a four-yard loss. Austin Sene broke around to his right and stepped into Grant’s passing lane at the 6-yard line but his motion to knock the ball down rather that grabbing it proved to be a turning point in the game.
Had Sene been able to secure the ball he could have walked in for a touchdown but it was a great high-speed defensive play that set up a long third down for Centennial at their own 13 yard line.
Boom. Ortiz broke to his left and ran down the sideline on another dash to erase the long third down to set Centennial up at Salpointe’s 43 yard line.
Salpointe forced another long third down situation but Centennial was given a first down on a pass interference call on a pass that floated out of the end zone, uncatchable.
Once again Centennial had overcome a long third down but they did themselves in after Shawn Poindexter pushed off in the end zone for an offensive pass interference call on the next play and then a face mask sent them back for a second-and-49 from their own 43 yard line.
But, Centennial escaped once again after Grant hit Poindexter for a 22 yard gain and Grant ducked his head after his throw, causing two Lancer defenders to hit him on his helmet. The contact drew an unsportsmanlike penalty to give Centennial a first down at Salpointe’s 20.
Grant threw to the end zone on the next play but he was intercepted by Kevin Hamlett.
Salpointe punted to start off the second half and Centennial failed to convert on fourth down to give the ball back to Salpointe but Ortiz intercepted Cota to get the ball right back.
Oche’ Myers only ran the ball once for Centennial but it was enough after he ran one in from 50 yards out to give Centennial a 28-7 lead.
Salpointe punted again but the Salpointe defense held and Centennial was forced to punt also.
Both teams then proceeded to give up the ball on downs but Salpointe went on a 97-yard drive with tight end Robert Wilson torching Centennial for catches of 20,16 and 13 yards with his last giving Salpointe another touchdown to make it 281-4 with 2:09 left in the game.
Centennial drew Salpointe off sides on a short third down and they were able to run the clock out from there.
The third down conversions, dropped interception, injury to Powell and penalties proved too much. The Lancers were not over-matched Friday night, they just needed a break and it never came.
Salpointe head coach Dennis Bene gathered his players and told them:
“You guys represented Salpointe in the greatest fashion. You all fought hard to the very end. You played as hard as you could so you can hold your heads up and be proud. You left a legacy at Salpointe that will never be matched…We are blessed to be playing football at Salpointe Catholic….Lancer’s forever.”
Ortiz finished with 219 yards rushing as Centennial had 447 yards of total offense. Cota finished with 203 yards passing with Denson pulling in 112 yards receiving but Salpointe could only get 26 yards on the ground.
Saturday, November 17, 7 pm
14 Nogales vs. 2 Queen Creek at Campo Verde