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Nighthawks’ defense stops bigger squad

Citizen Staff Writer



The bigger they are, the harder they fall, and Ironwood Ridge yelled “timber!” all evening Friday. Speed won out over size in a big way as the Nighthawks rolled to a 51-9 Class 5A-II first-round state playoff victory over visiting Phoenix North.

Next the No. 4 Nighthawks get another shot at 5A-II Southern Region foe and No. 5-seeded Sunnyside, which beat them 27-24 two weeks ago.

“It’s just like last year but reversed,” said Nighthawks linebacker Ray Cottman, who had to operate for the second straight week in the middle without injured standout linebacker Jake Fischer. “We’re ready. It’s going to be physical like last time but we have them here.”

Fischer should return next week against Sunnyside. The Nighthawks beat the Blue Devils in the regular season last year, but lost to them in the playoffs in the second round.

Ironwood Ridge junior Adrian Brahler had a big game with 105 rushing yards and a 45-yard touchdown catch. Cottman, at tight end, caught 94 yards worth of Tyler D’Amore’s 12-for-16 passing. Wide receiver Scott Campbell caught six passes for two TDs.

Ironwood Ridge ran up 110 yards in penalties, but head coach Gary Minor will take it under the circumstances because of Phoenix North’s size.

“You outweigh them by 100 pounds! C’mon!” shouted one North fan at his team.

That was a bit of a stretch, but the Nighthawks had to rely on quickness and strength to dominate.

“I was concerned about their size,” Minor said. “We saw on film they have some weapons. And their running back was a load, as good and tough a guy as we have faced all year.”

North’s 5-foot-8, 220-pound back Treven Masse required almost all 11 Nighthawks to bring him down every time he ran. But he gained just 57 yards, a credit to the swarming defense.

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