Courtesy Roberto Payne
ironwood Ridge High School showed why it may be the most feared team in the city Friday night.
The visiting Nighthawks (4-0) used a dominant rushing attack to stay unbeaten with a 41-21 win over rival Canyon del Oro.
Ironwood Ridge had 10 players record a carry, with senior running back Soma Helu leading the team with 82 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
Helu made the most of his 11 carries and provided two of his three touchdowns in the second half to pad the Nighthawks lead.
Aiding Helu was Ironwood RIdge junior running back Nick Brahler, who racked up 63 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
In total, Ironwood Ridge complied 273 rushing yards compared to CDO’s 153 rushing yards. All six of Ironwood Ridge’s touchdowns came via the ground attack.
After the game, Helu said he owes all the credit to his offensive line.
“I’m grateful for this wonderful group of men we play with,” Helu said. “I’ve been playing with them since my freshman year and we have a nice bond going. I’m just happy.”
Behind a rowdy home crowd, CDO (2-1) came out with a ton of energy, but was unable to translate that energy into points.
The Nighthawks scored the first 14 points of the game before CDO junior running back Elijah Carey ran in a 1-yard touchdown with 5:44 left in the second quarter.
Carey, younger brother of former Arizona football standout running back and current Chicago Bear Ka’Deem Carey, paced the Dorados with 70 rushing yards on 13 carries to go along with one touchdown.
The Dorados made a run late in the second half with rushing touchdowns from senior tight end Cameron Crandall and senior running back Juilian Brey in the fourth quarter to cut a 34-point deficit down 20.
However, the late touchdowns from Crandall and Brey didn’t close the gap enough to make the Nighthawks coaching staff change its game plan.
To add insult to injury, Canyon del Oro couldn’t overcome numerous injuries; including missing senior starting quarterback Garrett Woodlock.
Backup junior quarterback Carlos Maldonado filled in for Woodlock, but I-Ridge was able to disrupt Maldonado’s timing on several dropbacks.
Ironwood Ridge coach Matt Johnson said his team’s health was a significant factor in controlling the game from the start and the main detriment to CDO’s lack of offensive consistency.
“Mainly it says that we’re healthy,” Johnson said. CDO “has a lot of injuries and they’re missing their quarterback and their center. They’re battling the injury bug and if they get healthy, I know they can make a playoff run.”
Ironwood Ridge has a bye week before taking on Queen Creek in a road matchup Sept. 23 and CDO will hit the road to face Amphitheater on Friday.