High school football All-Stars: Nighthawks swoop in for awards

I-Ridge's Williams, Simmons named best on offense, defense
2012-12-23T00:00:00Z 2012-12-23T01:27:34Z High school football All-Stars: Nighthawks swoop in for awardsDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 23, 2012 12:00 am  • 

There's a highlight video of Tyler Williams on YouTube and I'm a sucker for it.

It's 10 minutes 24 seconds and it's got something for everyone on it.

It shows his blazing speed and amazing open-field moves. It displays his leadership and ability to run a complicated offense. It also shows that when he needs to, he can beat you with his arm.

There have been roughly 940 views of the video and I don't know exactly how many I'm responsible for, but it's more than a handful.

He's a blast to watch.

And this season, the entire state got to see it.

Williams, Ironwood Ridge's senior quarterback, led the Nighthawks to a Division II state championship and today is named the Arizona Daily Star offensive player of the year.

Williams took over as the starting quarterback for the Nighthawks last season and went 23-4.

He accounted for nearly 2,500 yards of total offense this season and was the only signal-caller in Southern Arizona to rush for at least 1,000 yards and pass for at least 1,000.

The statistics are nice, but that's not what makes Williams elite. His knack for performing at a high level in the biggest games is what sets him apart.

In the team's regular-season win over Phoenix-area power Tempe Marcos de Niza, Williams rushed for 162 yards and a pair of scores and led his team to a road win over a stacked team.

One week later, against Peoria Centennial, Williams was even better. He had 175 yards of total offense and four touchdowns, including the play of the year - a flip over a Centennial defender for a rushing touchdown.

And when it looked like Williams wasn't capable of raising his game to another level, the playoffs came.

Williams was a man in the postseason. He had 839 yards of total offense and scored eight touchdowns in four postseason games.

But he wasn't a one-man show. He had help en route to the Nighthawks' state title.

Ironwood Ridge's defense gave up 14 points or fewer in nine of the team's 14 games. Senior linebacker Scott Simmons was the clear leader of the unit and is the Daily Star's defensive player of the year.

A jack-of-all-trades, Simmons is a winner.

In the state championship game, Simmons intercepted Centennial quarterback Tre'von Grant off a deflection and walked into the end zone for a touchdown. Ironwood Ridge led 13-3 in the third quarter at the time and Simmons' play changed the game and locked up a state title for the Nighthawks.

He made plays like that all season.

He had an amazing six blocked punts and led the team with nine sacks.

He's been an important piece to the Ironwood Ridge defense since he was a sophomore, but this year he went from solid role player to clear standout.

He made play after play and gave the Ironwood Ridge defense a player to look to when times got tough. Like Williams, Simmons has the ability to play his best in the biggest moments.

In the regular-season win over Centennial, he had four sacks. He had an interception in a postseason win over Glendale Apollo. Even in the team's only loss of the season, he still managed to make an impact, blocking a punt, which led to a touchdown.

Williams and Simmons were consistently the best players in Southern Arizona this season, and the team's 13-1 mark and state championship prove it.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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