TUCSON, Ariz., Jan. 11, 2013 — The Ironwood Ridge High School football team has finished No. 110 nationally for the 2012 season. The announcement was made by MaxPreps, a California-based company that ranks more than 16,000 high school varsity football teams.
In only its 10th season of fielding a varsity football team, Ironwood Ridge ended with a 13-1 record after whipping Centennial of Peoria, 27-3, on Nov. 24 to win its first Arizona Division II state championship. The Nighthawks had beaten Centennial, 28-24, earlier in the season. Ironwood Ridge is one of 50 schools being honored on the eighth annual MaxPreps Tour of Champions presented by the Army National Guard.
"For nearly a decade, MaxPreps and the Army National Guard have honored America's finest high school football teams with the prestigious Army National Guard national ranking trophy," said MaxPreps President and Founder Andy Beal. "Coach Johnson and the Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks have proven on the field that they are among the nation's truly elite high school football teams."
"It's awesome to receive this award as it's a reflection of the hard work of these kids and their determination and perseverance," said Ironwood Ridge head football coach Matt Johnson, who completed his fourth season.
Senior quarterback Tyler Williams was a double threat in Ironwood Ridge's spread offense. He completed 68.9 percent of his pass attempts for 1,353 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushed for 1,143 yards and 15 TDs. Running back Anthony Braunreiter gained 1,766 yards on the ground and scored 29 TDs while catching three TD passes. He accounted for 196 of the team's 590 points.
The Nighthawks defense was led by linebackers Jake Matthews and Scott Simmons and free safety John Robert Klass – all seniors. Matthews was the leading tackler with 94 stops and 7 ½ quarterback sacks. He also caused two fumbles, recovered two and intercepted a pass. Simmons made 67 tackles, had nine sacks, blocked six punts, caused a fumble, recovered two, picked off a pair of passes and scored five touchdowns. Klass contributed 69 tackles, intercepted two passes, fell on a loose ball and blocked a punt.
Arizona Army National Guard Captain John Gehring presented Coach Johnson and the team with the Army National Guard national ranking trophy during a winter sports assembly Friday morning. The team also received a banner for their accomplishment.
"For eight years the Army National Guard has recognized nationally ranked football teams with the Army National Guard national ranking trophy," said LTC Christian J. Johnson of the Army National Guard. "We take great pride in doing so because it symbolizes the indomitable spirit common to high school athletes and the U.S. Soldier. It is our honor to share this symbol with the team, coaches, parents, and school. It is an award for the entire community and is much deserved."
MaxPreps uses a sophisticated computer program, known as the Freeman Rankings, to determine team rank for the Tour of Champions. The system utilizes the huge number of game results stored in the MaxPreps database. Generally, the more a team wins the higher the ranking, but the system takes into account quality wins (against other highly ranked opponents), margin of victory, and strength of schedule. Playoff games are weighted 2.1 times a regular season game.